Often underestimated Art Deco jewelry has made a come back among serious collectors and even investors. Says David Bennett, the head of Sotheby’s jewelry department for Europe and the Middle East: “Art Deco was everything jewelry was meant to be-beautiful, glamorous, and romantic.” The current interest in Art Deco jewelry only dates from the late 1970’s. There was a time when Art Deco jewelry was actually worth less than the stones it was made off, thus leading to many pieces being taken apart to sell or use the stones separately. There are several reasons why this situation has changed so dramatically, and is expected to stay that way.
Either way, it’s important is to view the diamond in person to determine which diamond is right for you.
You won’t see any modern round brilliant diamonds in authentic Art Deco jewelry unless it has been modified. You will find other incredible antique cut diamonds, most notably being the Old European Cut diamond. ?
Later in the Art Deco period, when women’s fashions acquired a more structural component, clips and double-clip brooches became popular.
In contrast to the sleek, geometric shapes of the Deco period, many authentic and reproduction pieces also include some elements that swing or move with the wearer. Hanging pendants and drop earrings are popular in both fine jewelry and costume examples. Many brooches and pins also have a teardrop bead or hanging piece that swings from the main portion of the design. You’ll also see long, layered strands of pearls or beads that have lots of dangly movement.
Raymond Templier: Masion Templier was founded by Charles Templier, who opened a jewellery shop in Paris in 1849. His son, Paul, succeeded him, and the company flourished under his direction. ‘Raymond [Templier] joined the family jewellery business after he had graduated from the E´cole Nationale Supérieure des Arts De´coratifs,’ explains Laurence Mouillefarine. ‘He was the artist of the family. He was a perfectionist and demanding when it came to manufacturing. His jewellery pieces are flawlessly crafted, impeccable. Authentic pieces are readily identifiable because of this.’
“While designers came from diverse backgrounds, they all held the same ideal: to make a clean break from the past, draw inspiration from everyday life, and rid the decorative arts of useless ornamentation,” says Laurence Mouillefarine, a historian of the Art Deco era. Along with the artists and architects of the time, the master jewellers of the era worked on developing the connection between form and function. Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paul Brandt, Raymond Templier and Fouquet are among the jewelers who created masterful, geometric looks, from a stunning Deco sapphire ring by Raymond Templier, to an emerald ring and a diamond-and-onyx ring both by Jean Fouquet, all recently sold by Christie’s Geneva.
Jewellery designer Carat London is also among the broad spectrum of accessible, independent brands now influenced by Art Deco sensibilities. Heidi Thompson, creative director of Carat London is inspired by the “architecture and décor” of the era, she tells BBC Designed, particularly in the brand’s Chrysler collection. “Obviously the iconic Chrysler building in New York City was the main inspiration. Our mood boards included patterns from not only the exterior of the building but also the wallpaper, geometric compositions in paintings and furniture, and the beautiful details of the wrought iron gate.”
For instance, at a September auction at Doyle, jade-and-diamond pendant earrings, set in platinum, from 1930 and signed by Parisian designer Janesich, sold for $43,750—more than $13,000 above auctioneer’s top estimate. That same month, an emerald ring, circa 1920, made with a stone given to Cartier by a royal family of India, commanded more than $100,000.
This 1.89 ct old European cut diamond is beautiful, but does not have the sparkle of a modern round brilliant. Beauty, though, is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. Photo: Orasa Weldon/GIA.
You can also test diamonds successfully at home with state of the art diamond testers that are now available on-line.
Art Nouveau will always have its admirers, and many designers still include it in their designs today. Even when not specifically creating an Art Nouveau piece, elements find their way in. It has a beauty, elegance, and charm that will never truly go out of fashion, and which will always remain appealing.
‘While designers came from diverse backgrounds, they all held the same ideal: to make a clean break from the past, draw inspiration from everyday life, and rid the decorative arts of useless ornamentation,’ says Laurence Mouillefarine, a historian of the Art Deco period.
The major jewellers of the day, among them: Boucheron, Cartier, Fouquet, Gerard Sandoz, and Van Cleef & Arpels were producing Art Deco inspired masterpieces for the very rich and fashion conscious.
Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, took the throne in 1901. Society was at the height of its elegance and sophistication: it was during this time that advances in metal fabrication finally allowed for the use of platinum in jewelry (which still remains extremely popular today). This advance makes jewelry dating much easier – if a piece is made with platinum, we can be fairly sure that it was made in the early 20th century or later. In addition, it was still common practice for jewelers to back platinum pieces with gold until 1910 or so, making dating even more precise. Because of the strength of platinum, its use allowed jewelers to produce more intricate, detailed pieces. Some Edwardian engagement rings are so detailed it appears that the diamonds are set in lace instead of metal. Jewelry from the Edwardian period was light and delicate, and using as many diamonds as possible in a design was essential. The overall style of the times was light, feminine, and airy. Women commonly wore white, white, and more white. Diamonds were the gemstone of choice during the time, but we also see sapphires, aquamarines, and most notably, electric green demantoid garnets from Russia, which are very rare to find in larger sizes. Additionally, a new type of decorative enhancement called “milgraining” was used extensively during this period. Milgraining involves a small border of platinum beads set around the edges of a piece of jewelry that adds a soft, elegant look. The end of the Edwardian era came abruptly with the start of World War I in 1914. Gone was the lightheartedness of the times: people began to hide or sell all their jewelry, and platinum became scare due to the demand for its use in the war effort.
A 1.05 ct emerald cut diamond is the essence of elegance, and well-suited to the Art Deco style. Photo: Robert Weldon/GIA.
As the oldest era of jewelry that you will find at Filigree Jewelers, Georgian jewelry is very scarce in our collection. Georgian Jewelry is dated between 1714 and 1837. The name derives from the rein of the Hanoverian Monarchs in the UK all successively named George I through the IV. Georgian jewelry was entirely handcrafted and is known for it’s floral, organic and romantic motifs. Georgian jewelry is usually constructed in 18 karat yellow gold and sterling silver. The gemstones from the period were roughly faceted and usually mismatch as jewelers used whatever materials they could get their hands on. Garnets, amethysts and topaz were readily available and often used in Georgian jewelry. Diamonds were typically set in sterling silver and backed (foil backed) in gold. Georgian jewelry is not recommended for daily wear.
The use of geometric shapes in Art Deco designs is one of the defining characteristics of this period. Jewelry designers used shapes like triangles, squares, rectangles and circles in their creations. These stylistic choices were meant to capture the streamlined, modern spirit of the time.
Michel Perinet, legendary Parisian gallerist who was the first to offer rare and important pieces of Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewellery: ‘The movement was rather short-lived, lasting 15 years, from 1898 to the start of World War I. The most beautiful, most creative and most original Art Nouveau objects were only produced over an even briefer period of time: from approximately 1898 to 1906. While René Lalique continued to put out great works after that time, his creations were less innovative and more decorative. Between 1908 and 1910, the taste for cleaner, simpler lines and a proclivity for platinum and engraved crystal gained the upper hand.’
Reading the above, you might be forgiven for thinking that Art Deco is somehow less art-worthy than Art Nouveau, but that wouldn’t just be unfair, it would also be inaccurate. Art Deco is every bit as artistic, just in a different way. Out go the flowing, sweeping lines and nature symbols, and in come the aggressive, symmetrical designs which literally formed the building blocks of the early 20th century.
The Victorian period is one of our favorites at Filigree Jewelers. Named after Great Britain’s beloved Queen Victoria who was an undeniable romantic. Queen Victoria’s reign was the second longest of any British monarch in history, spanning from 1837 until her death in 1901. Victoria’s long rule and beloved status meant she influenced many areas of public life including politics, social mores and fashion. Common people now had the images needed to emulate Victoria’s style and the industrial revolution gave them the wealth and products to purchase their own versions of it. Up to this point essentially all jewelry was being completely handmade with expensive 22k gold, 18k gold and silver. With rapid advances in technology, machines could now cut & stamp metal and make chain and electroplated gold onto base metals. The proliferation of factories meant metalworking in 14 karat, 10 karat, and even 9 karat gold could now be performed on a mass scale with affordable materials. Suddenly jewelry was accessible to almost everyone. Victorian jewelry mimicked the Queen’s style and collection: from snake rings and orange blossom motifs to mourning jewelry. Mourning jewelry was one of the iconic styles steaming from the Victorian period. When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria went into a prolonged period of grieving and Victorian society followed her lead. Black clothing and black mourning jewelry came into vogue. Jet (black fossilized wood) and tortoise shell were some of the materials used because their dark colors reflected the theme of loss. Lockets filled with photo miniatures and locks of hair became popular mementos.
Many examples of Art Deco-style jewelry have enameled elements. Enamel involves fusing molten colored glass to metal, and it’s a great way to add color or contrast to a piece. In the Deco era, many jewelry items featured black, blue, green, or deep red enamel, but you can find pieces in almost any color. It’s popular on fine jewelry, as well as costume pieces.
An Art Deco rock crystal, diamond and enamel bracelet, by Janesich. This lot was offered in Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection on 13 November 2017 at Christie’s in Geneva and sold for CHF 35,000
Prices can hit $100,000 plus, but the starter collector can get in for $1,500. Truly exceptional pieces—made with precious stones and crafted by top designers—can go for much higher.