Art Deco Motifs

The Art Deco Era (1920-1939) was defined by certain distinguishing characteristics when it came to jewelry design.  Below, I am going to list the most common themes, influences or motifs.

Architectural

New advances in architecture created more streamlined and bold forms which were influential to Art Deco jewelry

AN ART DECO BROOCH AND EARRINGS, BY JDB

AN ART DECO BROOCH AND EARRINGS, BY JDB (Elizabeth Taylor’s Collection)
Christie’s Sale

GIARDINETTI (‘Little Garden’)

‘Giardinetti’ (from the Italian, meaning ‘little garden’) was another continuing theme. A giardinetti piece had tiny flowers arranged in a vase, pot or basket, usually made from precious stones. Also stylized flowers without vases or pots or baskets were often seen.

They had been popular since the Georgian era, but now had a decidedly Art Deco style.

Brooch

Paris, c. 1927-1940
Ostertag
Brooch platinum, white gold, baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emerald
V&A Museum

Egyptian

There was another, and perhaps most popular, Egyptian Revival movement in the Art Deco era.

An Egyptian revival sapphire and diamond scrab ring

An Egyptian revival sapphire and diamond scarab ring, c. 1925
Christie’s Sale 7804

Geometric

Bold and geometric designs were characteristic of the era.

Ring

USA, c. 1920-1930
Ring, platinum set with diamonds and sapphires
V&A Museum

Abstract

Abstract art (Cubistism, Constructivists and Futurists,  Suprematism from Russia, Dutch de-Stijl and African primative) was highly influential.

Bangle

Paris, c. 1925
Bangle, lacquered brass
V&A Museum

Machinery

Cars, machinery and machine parts were influential motifs

Brooch

England, c. 1937
Brooch, platinum set with diamonds
V&A Museum

Figurative

These consisted of hands, animals, birds, ladybirds, bouquets of flowers, cartoon characters and other novelty items

Brooch

Paris, c. 1930-1940
Cartier
Brooch with enameled gold, diamonds and carved coral
V&A Museum

Eastern

Chinese and Japanese motifs and styles were popular, as well as Arabesque themes

AN ART DECO DIAMOND, SAPPHIRE, JADE AND ONYX BRACELET

AN ART DECO DIAMOND, SAPPHIRE, JADE AND ONYX BRACELET
Christie’s Sale 2306

Bows

Bow motifs continued to be popular

An Art Deco diamond bow brooch

Diamond Bow Brooch
Christie’s Sale 6704

Native American

Native American design was influential, in particular giving rise to long, woven sautoir necklaces.

AN ART DECO PEARL, DIAMOND AND ONYX SAUTOIR

AN ART DECO PEARL, DIAMOND AND ONYX SAUTOIR
Christie’s Sale 3011

Further reading / resources:

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Art_Deco_Jewelry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estate_jewelry#Art_Deco_jewelry_.281915.E2.80.931935.29

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