Art Deco (1920-1935)

Style Characteristics
The Art Deco style reflected a compendium of influences and motifs including stylized flower baskets, bowls and vases; graceful animals such as gazelles, greyhounds and panthers; and fountains, ziggurats (graduated stepped pyramidal shapes, like skyscrapers), streamline and "speed" motifs with parallel lines, geometric and angular shapes. Egyptian, Oriental and (East) Indian design elements and colors co-existed with all-white pave diamond and platinum jewels. Flat, compacted two-dimensional geometric designs of the 1920s became more three-dimensional, open and chunky in the 1930s. Flexible strap or narrow bangle bracelets worn in multiples and long pendent earrings were the dernier cri of the 1920s. Wider open link bracelets - stacked on one arm or both - and dress clips - worn singly or in pairs along the top edge of an evening
gown - were the signature look of the 1930s.

Prohibition, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was enacted in 1919 and repealed in 1933. Also in 1919, Walter Gropius, who espoused the concept that "form follows function" and all excess ornamentation should be avoided, founded the Bauhaus School in Germany. U.S. women succeeded at last in winning the right to vote with the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920. L'Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et indeustriels modernes was held in Paris in 1925; it became the derivation for the style name "Art Deco" in the 1960s. The first movie "talkies" were introduced in 1927. The stock market crashed in 1929. Ernest Oppenheimer became chairman of De Beers in 1930. the Diamond Producers Association and the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) were formed in 1933. Harry Winston opened a retail jewelry business in New York City in 1932.

Metals & Stones
Platinum was back in widespread use after World War I; white gold was popular for less expensive jewelry. Pavé set diamonds were often accented with caliber cut colored gemstones - rubies, sapphires, emeralds and onyx in strong contrasting combinations. Carved jadeite of Oriental influence, carved rubies, sapphires and emeralds from India ("tutti frutti" or "fruit salad"), coral, rock crystal and pearls were all popular gemstones for Art Deco jewels.

Important Designers
French haute joailliers Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Mauboussin, Lacloche Frères and avant-garde designers Raymond Templier, Georges and Jean Fouquet and Jean Dunand defined the Art Deco style for Europeans. In the U.S., Cartier New York, Tiffany & Co., Black, Staff & Frost, Raymond Yard and manufacturing jewelers Oscar Heyman & Bros. and William Scheer, Inc. interpreted the style for American tastes.

Geometric cuts, such as the triangle, trapeze and pentagon, were perfectly suited to the angular, geometric Art Deco style. Baguettes, emerald and Asscher cuts were also popular. Small round brilliants were pavé set to cover the entire surface of a jewel. Marcel Tolkowsky published Diamond Design in 1919, detailing the mathematically calculated cut and "best proportions" of the "ideal" cut for modern brilliants.