The GIA: "The Timeless Allure of Art Deco"

Tutti Frutti (bold color contrasts using carved gemstones) dazzles in this bracelet, brooch, and lapel watch by Mauboussin. Jewelry courtesy of Kathryn Bonanno.

We love all things Art Deco and we are thrilled to see that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recently published a feature on the time period! We have a number of 1920's pieces that will truly take your breath away.  Read more about the roaring twenties jewelry in GIA's article below:

The Roaring Twenties – It’s a time that still fascinates us.

Autos, the radio, the telephone, and the motion picture became cultural fixtures. Skyscrapers sprung up in major cities. Jazz rang from speakeasies in Harlem. Charles Lindbergh made the first non-stop transatlantic flight. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Duke Ellington, Babe Ruth, and Charlie Chaplin commanded the cultural stage, their fame fueled by the rise of the mass media.

The role of women was also changing. Entering the workforce en masse during World War I, women gained the right to vote in 1920. Flappers – women who wore short dresses and short hair – were the new standard bearers of fashion, shocking society with their scandalous behavior. And they wanted a new style, something that was not like the frilly, traditional jewelry of the Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras.

Such was the setting for the arrival of Art Deco – a style that celebrated the machine age. Sleek ocean liners, streamlined trains, and towering skyscrapers were favorite images to express this: they symbolized prosperity, and progress, and the belief that technology was the cure for all ills.

The term “Art Deco” – the period lasted from the 1920s through the 1930s – came from Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials Modernes, an exhibition of decorative arts held in Paris in 1925. Jewelry was one of the featured items, and the judges selected geometric, linear pieces that celebrated modern industry.
To give objects a futuristic look, Art Deco artists used vertical lines and geometric shapes (arcs, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, etc.) in repetitive patterns. The Chrysler Building in Manhattan is a classic example of
Art Deco architecture, and features a number of these design elements.
Jewelry designers were very much a part of the Art Deco movement. Departing from the organic curvilinear flourishes that belonged to the earlier movement, Art Nouveau, these designers embraced the vertical line and simple, repetitive geometric patterns. The purpose was to evoke elegance and sophistication.

Art Deco jewelers used platinum and white gold, geometric shapes, and vivid color, contrasts to capture the spirit of the time. Diamond cuts in geometric shapes such as the baguette, triangle, trapeze, and half-moon became popular in Art Deco jewelry.
Advances in stone cutting allowed jewelers to make complex pieces, like this platinum, sapphire, and diamond pendant/brooch shown below.
A significant event in the Art Deco movement was discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Egypt’s art and architecture were exotic – fresh inspiration to artists schooled in old-world masters like Michelangelo and Rembrandt – and Art Deco practitioners readily borrowed motifs from it and other ancient civilizations that were being unearthed.
Robert Ackermann, instructor of Jewelry Manufacturing Arts, GIA, Carlsbad.
The timeless beauty of Art Deco and its promise of a bright future is what captivated the flappers – and it still speaks to us. F. Scott Fitzgerald poetically expressed this sentiment in The Great Gatsby: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”