The 1920s were a time of dramatic changes in many areas, including the styles of fashion and jewelry. The Art Nouveau movement, which was popular before Art Deco, focused on curving lines, delicate details and natural imagery. In jewelry, figures of women with fairy wings and images from nature were popular, as well as subtle, soft-looking stones such as moonstone and pearl. With the advent of Art Deco, these trends transformed into bolder, more geometric styles, while maintaining the attention to detail. Diamonds were often placed in combination with onyx for a sharp, black and white contrast, or colored gems like emeralds and rubies to form abstract designs.
These changes in Art Deco jewelry designs mirrored the changes in fashion. With women’s shorter haircuts and lower necklines, long earrings were the perfect accessories to fill up this newly empty space between hair and shoulders. Dresses were looser, with dropped waists and shorter hemlines. Emphasis was on vertical lines from head to toe, and long necklaces accenting these long lines.
Pearls were very popular as a necklace choice, as well as a variety of gemstones. Women’s foreheads were no longer in styles, and were often covered by hair, tight-fitting cloche hats, and head pieces. This also gave jewelry designers the opportunity to create elaborate decorations for women’s hair, often with precious materials like platinum and diamonds.
This transformation of style from Art Nouveau to Art Deco was seen in rings, as well. Graceful elements inspired by natural motifs gave way to a more linear graphic style emphasizing the length of the hand. For some curved lines and pave details reminiscent of the Art Nouveau style, check out this ring:
For a bolder, more linear look, try this Art Deco-inspired ring.
Want to know how Art Deco got its name?
Curious how King Tut affected the styles of jewelry in the 1920s?
Stay tuned for the next installment, Art Deco Jewelry Designs Part 2: The Heyday.