Art Deco

Art Deco jewelley


In the 1920s and 1930s, designers, including René Lalique and Cartier tried to reduce the dominance of diamonds. They introduced more colourful gemstones, such as small emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Gold brooch of a tapered pierced foliate bar with square shaped sapphire flanked on either side by a brilliant cut diamond


Gold brooch of a tapered pierced foliate bar with square shaped sapphire flanked on either side by a brilliant cut diamond
Art Deco Gold brooch set with a central old brilliant cut diamond and pair of French cut sapphires

Gold brooch set with a central old brilliant cut diamond and pair of French cut sapphires


They also placed greater emphasis on very elaborate and elegant settings. These featured less-expensive materials such as enamel, glass, horn and ivory. Diamonds themselves were cut in less traditional forms.

Art Deco French carved horn beetle cicada signed Cannes

French carved horn beetle cicada signed Cannes


French mother-of-pearl sautoir necklace with ornate five-sided pendant


Aer Deco French mother-of-pearl sautoir necklace with ornate five-sided pendant

The 1925 Exposition saw many diamonds cut in the form of tiny rods or matchsticks. The settings for diamonds also changed. More and more often jewellers used platinum instead of gold, since it was strong and flexible and could set clusters of stones. Jewellers also began to use more dark materials, such as enamels and black onyx, which provided a higher contrast with diamonds.

Central square cut emerald ring, milligrain set with a surround of 28 diamonds set in white gold

Sold for £1,750

Jewellery became much more colourful and varied in style. Cartier and the firm of Boucheron combined diamonds with colourful other gemstones cut into the form of leaves, fruit or flowers. They made brooches, rings, earrings, clips and pendants. Far Eastern themes also became popular. Plaques of jade and coral were combined with platinum and diamonds. Vanity cases, cigarette cases and powder boxes were decorated with Japanese and Chinese landscapes made with mother of pearl, enamel and lacquer.

Beautiful Art Deco compact with mirror. Quality enamelling by Louis Kuppenheim, imported by Child & Child

Beautiful compact with mirror. Quality enamelling by Louis Kuppenheim, imported by Child & Child


Art Deco gold tone and garnet bro

Stomacher type brooch in gilded gold tone metal, set with six cabochon garnets


Rapidly changing fashions in clothing brought new styles of jewellery. Sleeveless dresses of the 1920s meant that arms needed decoration. Designers created bracelets of gold, silver and platinum encrusted with lapis-lazuli, onyx, coral, and other colourful stones. Other bracelets were intended for the upper arms, and several bracelets were often worn at the same time. The short haircuts of women in the twenties called for elaborate deco earring designs.

Dangle earrings on 9ct gold wires with carnelians

Dangle earrings on 9ct gold wires with a carnelian between the link connected to a larger carnelian drop separated by a rock quartz crystal disc.


As women began to smoke in public, designers created very ornate cigarette cases and ivory cigarette holders. The invention of the wrist-watch before World War I inspired jewellers to create extraordinary decorated watches. Some were encrusted with diamonds and plated with enamel, gold and silver. Pendant watches, hanging from a ribbon, also became fashionable.


The established jewellery houses of Paris in the period, Cartier, Chaumet, Georges Fouquet, Mauboussin, and Van Cleef & Arpels all created jewellery and objects in the new fashion. The firm of Chaumet made geometric cigarette boxes, cigarette lighters, pillboxes and notebooks. They used hard stones decorated with jade, lapis lazuli, diamonds and sapphires. They were joined by many young new designers who each had their own idea about deco. Raymond Templier designed pieces with intricate geometric patterns, including silver earrings that looked like skyscrapers. Gerard Sandoz was only 18 when he started to design jewellery in 1921. He designed many celebrated pieces based on the smooth and polished look of modern machinery.


The glass designer René Lalique also entered the field. He created pendants of fruit, flowers, frogs, fairies or mermaids made of sculpted glass in bright colours, hanging on cords of silk with tassels.

Lalique Art Deco ‘Guepes’ wasp pendant

Lalique Art Deco ‘Guepes’ wasp pendant with a long French jet chain and tassel. Signed R Lalique


The jeweller Paul Brandt contrasted rectangular and triangular patterns and embedded pearls in lines on onyx plaques. Jean Desprès made necklaces of contrasting colours by bringing together silver and black lacquer, or gold with lapis lazuli. Many of his designs looked like highly polished pieces of machines. Jean Dunand was also inspired by modern machinery and combined bright reds and blacks to contrast with polished metal.


Abroad in Germany and Austria many Art Deco designs developed such as those by Theodor Fahrner. Fahrner began a workshop in Pforzheim, Germany in 1855, creating jewellery of Art Nouveau or Jugendstil style. After his death in 1919, the company went on to produce Art Deco jewellery.

Art Deco glass

Like the Art Nouveau period before it, Art Deco was an exceptional period for fine glass and other decorative objects. They were designed to fit their architectural surroundings. The most famous producer of glass objects was René Lalique. His works, from vases to hood ornaments for automobiles, became symbols of the period. He had made ventures into glass before World War I. He designed bottles for the perfumes of François Coty. He did not begin serious production of art glass until after World War I. In 1918, at the age of 58, he bought a large glassworks in Combs-la-Ville. He began to manufacture both artistic and practical glass objects. He treated glass as a form of sculpture and created statuettes, vases, bowls, lamps and ornaments. He used demi-crystal rather than lead crystal, which was softer and easier to form, though not as lustrous. He sometimes used coloured glass, but more often used opalescent glass, where part or the whole of the outer surface was stained with a wash. Lalique provided the decorative glass panels, lights and illuminated glass ceilings for the ocean liners SS Ile de France in 1927 and the SS Normandie in 1935. Also some of the first-class sleeping cars of the French railroads. At the 1925 Exposition of Decorative Arts, he had his own pavilion. He designed a dining room with a table setting and matching glass ceiling for the Sèvres Pavilion. Also a glass fountain for the courtyard of the Cours des Métier, a slender glass column which spouted water from the sides and was illuminated at night.

Theodor Fahrner clip in silver and marcasite


Theodor Fahrner flower brooch

Rare Fahrner flower brooch with marcasites and pearl


A rare opalescent Rene Lalique Dauphins plate/coupe

A rare opalescent Rene Lalique Dauphins plate/coupe, with swimming carp amongst rippling waves, model 423, designed 1932. Etched mark R. Lalique France


Other notable Art Deco glass manufacturers included Marius-Ernest Sabino, who specialized in figurines, vases, bowls, and glass sculptures of fish, nudes, and animals. For these he often used an opalescent glass which could change from white to blue to amber, depending upon the light. His vases and bowls featured moulded friezes of animals, nudes or busts of women with fruit or flowers. His work was less subtle but more colourful than that of Lalique.

Other notable Deco glass designers included Edmond Etling. He also used bright opalescent colours, often with geometric patterns and sculpted nudes. Albert Simonet, and Aristide Colotte and Maurice Marinot, who was known for his deeply etched sculptural bottles and vases. The firm of Daum from the city of Nancy, which had been famous for its Art Nouveau glass, produced a line of Deco glass. This included vases and glass sculptures, solid, geometric and chunky in form. More delicate multicoloured works were made by Gabriel Argy-Rousseau. He produced delicately coloured vases with sculpted butterflies and nymphs. Also Francois Decorchemont, whose vases were streaked and marbled.


The Great Depression ruined a large part of the decorative glass industry, which depended upon wealthy clients. Some artists turned to designing stained glass windows for churches.