Jewelry, the Gift of Love

The Complete Beginners Guide To Art Deco Jewelry

If you enjoyed the most recent 5th season of the hugely popular Downton Abbey television series, you can see the Art Deco era come to life with loose flapper dresses and simple jewelry as well as women taking a giant leap forward in both fashion and freedom. Read on for a short primer on the advent of the one of the most prominent movements in jewelry design.

The birth of Art Deco took place at the Paris Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925 and served as a showcase for not just fashion and jewelry, but a new, freer way of life. Designers began making pieces that followed angles and geometric lines, ushering out the flowing and elaborate designs of the Art Nouveau period. The result of this new awakening in jewelry design was more rigid lines and a new, crisp, modern look. It's easy to see the appeal of this jewelry and why even today the designs continue to be popular. The most notable innovations in the Art Deco movement in jewelry design are as follows:

Styles: The use of gemstones as accent pieces, rather than the focus of the piece, became common. Bold, colorful designs represented the optimistic attitude of the time. Color was used like never before, incorporating opaque gemstones such as jade and turquoise as well as the introduction of enamel in the designs.

Influences: The exciting discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922 sparked a flurry of Egyptian themed pieces using lapis lazuli, turquoise and carnelian. These gemstones portrayed shapes and scenes of pyramids, lotus blossoms, ankhs and scarabs.


  • New cutting techniques meant greater faceting of stones and led to the creation of new shapes such as the baguette and triangle, arranged in intricate mosaic patterns.
  • The discovery of a large platinum deposit together with improved heating techniques led to the extensive use of this lustrous white metal. Platinum is much stronger than gold, which can soften, making it ideal to hold the numerous gemstones in place.
  • By far the most important innovation in gem cutting is the mystery setting, or invisible setting. This setting technique appears in piece after piece and is characterized by gemstones set so closely together that no metal can be seen between each stone.

For the beginning collector, Art Deco jewelry is widely available and costume pieces are an affordable way to get started with your collection. Using the above pointers, you should have no problem incorporating these designs into your current wardrobe since Art Deco jewelry looks as fresh today as it did in the roaring twenties. Consult a designer like Morgan Sonsthagen Jewelry Design to get help with completing your Art Deco jewelry style.