The Art Deco era was a hugely influential period of innovation in all aspects of design. Its effect spanned art, architecture and fashion, giving birth to such incredible feats of engineering as the Empire State Building, along with influencing the design of such everyday objects as cars and vacuum cleaners. It revolutionised the landscape of design, utilising new materials, technology and ideology to create beautiful objects that were a radical departure from the styles which came before.
Art Deco was, above all, a hopeful movement. There was a general sense of optimism threaded through the entire period. Artists, engineers and craftsmen of all stripes saw the technological advancements which were occurring at the time and believed that it pointed towards a bright future, which they prepared for with their work.
Defining the Style
Much of the Art Deco style can be identified by its gleeful application of new materials and processes whilst drawing from a wide variety of different styles from across the globe. The strong geometric shapes drew inspiration from the earlier Cubist movement, whilst simultaneously exploring exotic designs from Japan, China and Persia and blending elements of ancient Egyptian and Mayan art.
The movement was also one of excess, celebrating the exuberance of the age with rare and beautiful materials which could now be worked with greater precision and flair than had been possible previously.
Stark combinations of contrasting and complementary colours were combined to create striking arrangements which were wholly unique and took the world by storm. The reach of the movement was vast, and influenced the world of art and design for many years, creating many works of art which are still wondrous to behold today.
Some of the most beautiful examples of Art Deco craftsmanship were also the smallest; the jewellers of the day began to innovate and apply the broader principles to their art, culminating in the creation of an array of spectacular pieces.
Art Deco Jewellery
The birth of the Art Deco movement coincided with the end of the Edwardian era in Britain. Kind Edward’s brief reign had followed on from the technological and industrial revolutions of the Victorian era, and the prosperity that the empire was experiencing contributed to a period of glamour and excess which dovetailed extremely well with the new ideas finding purchase amongst the people.
Art Deco jewellers abandoned the excessive engraving and intricate, delicate forms of Edwardian jewellery, and chose instead to express this decadence in clean, perfectly formed lines with exceptionally valuable materials.
Platinum was a particularly prized material which lent itself most strongly to what the Art Deco jewellers were creating. As one of the least reactive materials platinum was immune to the ravages of time in much the same way as pure gold, it was also less prone to damage and was denser – giving each piece a substance that gold did not permit.
The durability of newer metals and alloys, combined with new machinery and processes, allowed for stronger fittings and galleries, which made it more feasible to mount precious stones of impressive size. Large diamonds and pearls were mounted in strong, simple settings which allowed them to shine as never before. Substantial aquamarines were particularly valued, often presented with an emerald cut, whose straight lines and precise angles ideally fit the style of the age. At the same time lapidaries were implementing new and ingenious methods of gemstone cutting which gave birth to impressively accurate diamond cutting and new shapes, such as the intricate scissor cut.
The End of the Era
Although Art Deco styles and influences persist to this day the movement itself began to draw to a close in the 1930s. The great Depression in America, coupled with the disquiet that preceded the Second World War in Europe, punctured some of the optimism that had driven artistic innovation. The styles became gradually more subdued, even as craftsmen sought to better utilise new materials such as stainless steel, chrome and plastics.
Whilst the decadent aspects of the Art Deco period were eventually driven out by the grim reality of war the geometric stylings became incorporated into the more functional styles of the modern era, and subtle nods to the great designers and artists of the period can often be found in works of art to this day.
At Laurelle Antique Jewellery we have an enduring passion for the finest items created during the Art Deco era. Our experts have many years of experience in locating, assessing and providing fine Art Deco pieces for our customers.
You can see our full collection of Art Deco Jewellery here.
Looking for a specific piece? Our helpful staff are always happy to help. Feel free to get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on England: 0333 700 4500.