Thursday, January 20, 2011

Art Deco Vintage Jewelry Guide

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco is known as a style or era relating to the years 1920-1935. Of course, it didn't start on January 1, 1920 and end at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1935, but the years mentioned are when we see the strongest examples of Art Deco characteristics. As the Deco era approached and as it faded away, we see signs of it mixed in with the era that preceded it and the era that followed. These times are known as transitional times as one era transitions into another.

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Costume jewelry from this time consisted of (but is not limited to):
geometric shapes
strong lines
bright color contrasts
copied from expensive Paris examples
Czech jewelry
German jewelry made with sterling silver, dyed chalcedony (made to imitate chrysoprase), and marcasites
marcasites (faux and real) or what is known as marcasite that is actually pyrite
butterfly wing jewelry
speed related themes such as greyhounds, rockets, airplanes, etc.
"fruit salad" jewelry
real and synthetic gems such as jade, coral, onyx, mother of pearl, ivory, lapis, rock crystal, chrysoprase, carnelian, rubies, emeralds, smoky quartz, amozonite
dress clips
"white" metal made to resemble platinum, often rhodium plated
birthstone jewelry


Art Deco Sterling Glass Cameo Necklace

Enamel and Glass Stone Link Bracelet

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Egyptian themes (following the discovery of the Pyramid tombs)
African and Japanese influences
modern technology influences (The Machine Age)
Jazz Age influences
Hollywood influences
the Paris Exposition - the International Exposition des Arts Decoratifs
the Russian Ballet
the Bauhaus

Vintage Egyptian Revival Enameled Bib Necklace

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Art Deco Jewelry in Different Forms

long flapper beaded necklaces
Czech necklaces with angular glass stones and marcasites
long necklaces worn together with short chokers or wrapped around the neck once to simulate a choker look
faux pearls and glass beads
use of Venetian beads
amber beaded necklaces
rectangular pendants with "Lalique-like" crystals

Czech Signed Deco Glass Necklace

many worn at one time on both wrists (as a symbol of fashion as well as status)
the "bangle" and the "tennis bracelet"
flexible link bracelets

Deco Red Molded Glass Bracelet

long dangles worn with "bobbed" hair

Art Deco Reverse Carved Sterling Crystal Earrings

Brooches and Pins
circle and oval shapes
"white" clear rhinestone pave set brooches
Florida theme (flamingos and palm trees)
Scottie dogs (Franklin D. Roosevelt had a Scottie dog in the 30's)
air travel themes

Clear  Pave Set Vintage Rhinestone Brooch

use of large synthetic or semiprecious stones (commonly seen is chrysoprase or onyx)
filigree settings
rectangular shape

Sterling Marcasite and Chrysoprase Glass Deco Ring

Dress Clips
rhinestones / paste
worn just about everywhere on the body
a staple for the stylish woman

Green Glass Geometric Deco Dress Clip

carved and molded glass

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Answers to Questions About Old Jewelry, 1840-1950 - 5th Ed by Jeanenne Bell, G.G. C. Jeanenne Bell, C. Jeanenne Bell (Producer)
Warman's Jewelry: A Fully Illustrated Price Guide to 19th and 20th Century Jewelry, Including Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Costume (2nd Ed) by Christie Romero

Guide created: 17/08/06 (updated 01/19/11)
This blog and all contents Copyright © Vintage Jewelry Girl. All rights reserved.


  1. I love Art Deco jewlery, it combines both antique and modern elements at the same time. You can wear a piece of art deco jewels and it would look as if you purchased it recently at a high end store. Both the geometric design and the colors are just magnificant.

  2. That's a really handy article, I'm going to tweet it out. I'd never connected that the Egyptian tombs were found at the same time and now I'm kicking myself I didn't see that earlier!

  3. Art Deco is still very relevant today and is seen in many jewelry styles.

  4. Very Informative.Thank You for Sharing

  5. First off, I love the Egyptian and Egyptian Revival jewelry. I find it incredibly hard to find vintage pieces for my shop and don't run into it very often. The second part is just as great in the eye candy dept. "Art Deco". This jewelry is very recognizable by the sharp, well placed, angular lines, much like the Egyptian style jewelry. I see why you have grouped the two together. Thanks for sharing, I never thought of the two as correlating to each other. I stand corrected!