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Art Deco Jewelry

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The Art Deco period, from the mid 1920s until about 1939, featured a transformation in jewelry style and execution. The flowing lines of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian periods gave way to a mechanical design motif with clean lines, symmetry and a grid. The new form was characterized by spectacular designs in bracelets, split broaches and earrings.

Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels excelled in this Art Deco jewelry, as the roaring 20s provided an exuberant ideal for the wealthy, who covered their arms with several of these sumptuous creations, dazzling diamonds rendered in platinum and accented with central stones of cabochon rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

The Hollywood movie goddesses of the time: Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich and Paulette Goddard wore fabulous suites made by top jewelry firms, often showing off their own personal jewels in their movies. Rings contained colored stone halos of precious stones surrounded larger diamonds, while earrings were accented by carved circles of red coral and black onyx . Buckles were festooned with elaborate bridges of diamond connectors.

Art Deco jewelry was further enhanced by the Egyptian revival style, borrowing heavily from the recent discovery and world interest in the tomb of King Tutankhamen (King Tut). Cartier sold cigarette cases, holders, pendants and broaches influenced by Egyptian motifs of lotuses, scarabs and falcons.

Today, true Art Deco pieces are highly prized though rare since many were reset during the 1960s and 1970s, destroying the original examples. This loss has spurred a new attempt at reproducing these items although without the true artistry of the originals.

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