02 Dec 2021
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Art Deco
Richness of jewels
By: Vipin Agnihotri
Mar 19 2007 12:00AM
Reference: 751  

In late August 1925 Vogue reported that “The richness of jewels continues in Paris, with diamonds as the solid foundation on which practically everything rests. They are combined with sapphires, with emeralds, with rubies- all the royal family of jewels-in broochies, in bracelets, in necklaces, in earings.’ Between the First and Second World Wars the commissioning and wearing of opulent jewellery in Society continued on a grand scale but with a radical departure in terms of design.
French designer Paul Iribe wrote in 1930 of the need to ‘sacrifice the flower on the altar of Cubism and the machine’, and although stylized naturalistic ornament did still feature, abstract geometric forms predominated- in response to the simple lines favored by dress designers and the more dynamic lifestyle enjoyed by wealthier women.
Stark motifs were derived from modern architecture or machine parts, while at the same time more exotic effects were inspired by Indian jewellery, Oriental art and Egyptian iconography. Dense concentrations of precious stones, ranked together in geometric patterns and held by the most delicate and discreet platinum or white gold settings, or vivid blocks of contrasting colours, characterized the jewellery of the 1920’s and ‘30s.

This minimal and streamlined style only became known as Art Deco in the 1960’s in recognition of the importance of the Exposition International “Des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris in 1925, which has been dedicated to new and original work.

Boyish Hairstyles such as the Eton Crop brought long earings back in to fashion. Necklaces followed suite, often further extended by a matching pendant or jewelled tassel. Many were made of simple geometric links encrusted with precious stones, a pattern that was also often used for bracelets. One of the most distinctive form of brooch was the double clip, which came apart into two identical halves that could be worn on facing lapels or on the opposite side of neckline.

Discoveries of new Diamond sources in Africa expanded the supply of precious stones. The long, rectangular baguette cut became on of the most fashionable shapes, often juxtaposed with round brilliants to give areas of contrasting pattern and reflection within a uniformly white piece. Black and White jewellery, where glossy black onyx was contrasted with diamonds, was also considered chic- as the French magazine “Femina” explained in 1926: ‘ Its sombre sheen makes a paved diamond ground shine out more splendidly, more brightly.’ Black onyx is rare in nature but was made from a paler chalcedony by immersing it in a boiling sugar solution for several days then heating it in sulphuric acid to carbonize the sugar.

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