Known as one of the most formative periods in vintage jewelry design, Jewelry art was never stronger than the 1930s – 1940s Art Deco. So where do you even start looking for Art Deco jewelry? We wanted to provide you with some background and tips to get you going. And with a little history and some tips we hope you will be well on your way to becoming an Art Deco vintage hunter yourself. Let’s get started with the basics.
The history of Art Deco is an eclectic style, and designs were created by many sources worldwide during the 30s and 40s and in many different countries. Most designers used a modern style, based it on decorative art, that was bold and clean. And it borrowed from Art Nouveau and Cubism in some areas. They also used urban imagery of the machine-age which you will find as a recurring theme in posters of that period and it affected overall design sensibilities. It is an era that celebrated power and glamour and Art Deco design can be found in all forms of art during this era.
Art Deco spans jewelry design of all types, decorative art, women and men’s fashion, filmmaking, photography, furniture and architecture. And that’s only the beginning! The beauty of Art Deco jewelry is that there is so much beauty to discover, jewellers like Boucheron, Chaumet, Lacloche Freres and Georges Fouquet in Paris, and Tiffany New York introduced flora/fauna, mixed with geometric shapes, juxtaposed or superimposed over each other. The clean details and bold shapes are timeless once you start exploring.
The metal of choice for Jewellers was Platinum. Lots of bright colors and enamels were quite common also, often juxtaposed with jade, lapis lazuli, malachite, rock crystal, amber, turquoise and coral. In fact so many colored stones were mixed together by Jewellers that their masterpieces were known to buyers as a fruit salads. And because Art Deco spanned twenty years or more, with many countries involved adopting this popular style, it’s worth doing your research. But start small, don’t be overwhelmed, and before you know it you will fall in love with this glamorous period of jewelry piece by piece.
TIPS FOR SPOTTING VINTAGE ART DECO JEWELRY
1. Look for ‘Streamlining’ lines that define edges that are straight and bold.
2. Rare pieces are etched, stamped, numbered and sometimes signed, look inside rings and under bracelets for these.
3. Search out materials like enamel, rock crystal, onyx and colored stones.
4. Try to spot symbolism, shapes with simple accents that are decorative yet clean.
5. Notice delicately drawn shapes and simple motifs.
6. Symmetry with bold lines and bold colors is another obvious trait.
7. And the most important tip of all, ask questions of all sellers. You can learn a lot from them.
And good luck out there, Art Deco was a truly unique period, we know you’re sure to find some great scores. Best of luck!