Art Deco- A Splendidly Self –Indulgent Decorative Style


What happens when you get tired of flowing lines and curves? Why you go angular of course. This is one of the things which happened to start the Art Deco era.  The flowing lines, sensual curves and botanical motifs in jewellery from the Art Nouveau period gave way to the angular, straight clean lines.

Picasso painting               Cubism by Pablo Picasso

Cubism painting, Asian, Islamic, Indian, African and Egyptian art, the women’s suffrage movement all contributed to the movement. The abundance of colour we see could be found in the colourful Russian ballet costumes after the ballet moved to Paris, after Bolshevik Revolution. We also have the Machine age all contributing to the look of the Art Deco period. It has been described as the era of everything from King Tut to Buck Rogers and beyond.

When I think of Art Deco I not only think of jewellery but architecture. We have so much around us if we look for it.

commerce courtCommerce court north CIBC 25 King St w Toronto

What exactly is Art Deco and when did it occur? Art Deco is the time frame from about 1920-1940 and it was a time of explosion of colour and straight lines and designs. The designs are varied but exacting- this is the best way I can think of to describe the look. It is a time where you can look at something and most times say this was art Deco. It was a time of social expression when women were beginning to be heard and to exert their independence which they had discovered during World War1.

Smoking was everywhere and women took it up with gusto hence all the paraphernalia associated with smoking designed for women during that time.

lady smoking

The jewellery of this period reflects these ideas as well. Colour and straight lines in geometric precision.

There was a variety of jewellery seen in this time frame and one fact to note is that screwback earrings became extremely popular with the short bob hairstyle popularized by the flapper. Women had stopped piercing their ears when earrings were not as needed as accessory. The screwback earring was designed in the early 1900s.  The “fruit salad “ or “tuiti fruiti” style of jewellery was also very popular during this time period and usually consisted of a combination of diamonds, carved rubies, carved emeralds, and carved sapphires. Platinum, white gold and tricolour –yellow, rose and green- gold was the favourite metals of the time.

The diamond straight line bracelet was one of the most popular articles of jewellery during the 1930 keeping the lines of fashion simple and elegant. Bakelite was a substance that was invented in 1909 and came into vogue during the Art Deco period due to its properties of being able to be molded into whatever the designer wanted as well as any colour.  It is highly collectable today.Art_Deco_Point_Necklace_-_Acrylic_Jewellery__97547

If you look around today you will see lots  of  examples of the Art Deco period still today. Thanks to Gabrielle Chanel who made costume jewellery acceptable and fashionable by launching a trend for using coloured-glass jewellery and imitation pearls in the 1920’s.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the period of Art Deco.


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