Iconic jewellery: making music

The musical icons of the early twentieth century radiated glamour and class. Known as much for their style as their talents, these stars captured the imaginations of newly liberated women across Europe and the United States. In doing so, these icons transformed the music halls and jazz clubs of the big cities into hotbeds of fashion. While the flapper dresses and elaborate hair embellishments regularly fall in and out of style, the statement necklaces, eye-grabbing bracelets, and fabulous earrings remain timeless emblems of a more decadent age.

When Billie Holiday emerged from the nightclubs of Harlem to work with the greatest jazz musicians of the 1930s, she captivated audiences with her breath-taking voice and impeccable style. Her chandelier earrings and cocktail rings spoke to the jazz age chic cultivated in urban clubs, while the long strands of pearls blended old with new, elegance with modernity.

As Holiday dazzled audiences on the stage, singer and actress Marlene Dietrich developed her glamorous persona on-screen. Known for her love of diamonds, Dietrichs favourite item of jewellery was fashioned in 1937 from a number of pieces in her collection. The result her infamous Jarretiere cuff bracelet typified the opulence of Old Hollywood. The large loop, decorated with rows of rubies and surrounded by diamonds, combined boldness with beauty and epitomised the superior craftsmanship of the age.

While the pearls and diamonds of the 1930s and 40s symbolised timeless glamour, the previous decade was more concerned with looking forward and looking outward. Blending art with modern industry, the Art Deco jewellery of the 1920s drew inspiration from Africa and Asia and focused on clean lines over ornamentation.

Born in the United States, Josephine Baker bewitched Parisian vaudeville audiences and became the darling of the Art Deco trend. In 1929, Baker appeared in an infamous shoot for Vanity Fair, in which her nude form was artfully concealed by fabric and strings of pearls. Around her neck was a set of three Jean Dunand necklaces. Inspired by African neck rings, the simple gold and blue pattern of the necklaces was perfectly offset by bold hoop earrings. Despite being nearly one hundred years old, the jewellery of the Art Deco trend feels as contemporary and relevant today.

Many of these famous pieces now reside in museums or private collections. Yet Laurelle Antique Jewellery ensures these old treasures will continue to adorn discerning customers into the twenty-first century.