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Art Deco

The 1925 “Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials Modernes” in Paris brought together the elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity of the age. The linear symmetry shown in the exhibition was a distinct departure from the flowing, organic curves of the art nouveau style and was named, in 1966, as “art deco”.

Jewellery production all but ceased during World War I. When the war ended, the values and traditions of the pre-War Edwardian era effectively ceased. The role of women changed during the war, with many women filling the jobs of men sent to the front. The “Roaring 20’s” followed, starting a more decadent style in fashion and jewellery. Women’s clothes changed, becoming more masculine. Trousers were worn by some, more liberated women for the first time, though dresses were still the standard eveningwear. Dresses became shorter to show more of the leg, with splits to allow the exuberant dances of the time. The Tango, Charleston and the Fox Trot, all needed a more athletic garb.

Women followed the Hollywood stars in the motion pictures in the new movie houses. These motion pictures brought about many changes in fashion. Hair was shorter, revealing earrings, usually screw backs, as the modern women did not want to pierce her ears.

Art deco jewellery was linear and geometric, with bright colours and abstract patterns. Diamond and platinum were again popular set in bracelets, rings, brooches and miniature cocktail watches. Long strands of pearls were worn with strapless and backless dresses. Cultured pearls became popular with the middle classes. Pearls were wrapped around the waist and placed down the back of dresses, or around the neck several times.

Art deco dress clips were worn at the neckline in pairs. They were also clipped onto shoes, bags, hats and jackets.

The 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb inspired an interest in all things Egyptian, especially the jewellery displays of turquoise, cornelian, lapis lazuli all set in gold. These became popular in Art Deco jewellery along with black onyx, coral, jade, quartz crystal, diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Set in platinum, silver and white metal to show the contrasting tones and shapes.


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