Annie Doresca and Michelle Graff welcome Reggie Johnson and Sheryl Jones for a frank conversation on the state of DEI in fine jewelry.
The History Behind … Art Deco
The latest in National Jeweler’s The History Behind series explores one of the most popular and influential periods in jewelry design, the Art Deco era.
New York--It’s a period that’s so popular, and has enjoyed so many revivals, that the term Art Deco is used loosely to refer to jewelry, architecture and furniture from many different decades.
To truly be Art Deco though, a piece must have been manufactured in the period between the two World Wars. Otherwise, it is just Art Deco style.
For this installment of The History Behind, National Jeweler turned to two antique experts--Janet Levy, of antique jewelry company The DeYoung Collection, and Patricia Faber of the Aaron Faber Gallery--to learn more about the origins of the era’s clean aesthetic.
When did Art Deco jewelry first appear on the market? Both Levy and Faber agree that there are no firm dates for any period of jewelry design; one movement simply blends into the one that follows.
“There’s not this kind of wall that divides anything,” Levy said. “It’s very fluid.”
While a touring exhibition put together by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London defines the period as 1910 to 1939, Levy said in her mind, the earliest Art Deco pieces date from about 1918 or 1919, with interest in the movement waning in the 1940s.
Why it is called Art Deco and what influenced the design of the period? Art Deco took its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts). It took place in Paris in 1925 and is said to have done more to advance the worldwide popularity of Art Deco design than any other exposition of its time.
Like most movements in design, Art Deco was a rejection of the soft, curvy forms of the period that preceded it, Art Nouveau.
It was after World War I, and “People needed an escapist, happy expression coming out of that horrible war,” Levy said.
Women enjoyed a period of liberation in terms of their hairstyles, lifestyles and clothing--think how little the flapper girls of the era wore--and wanted new, fresh-looking jewelry to go with it.
They could have it, thanks to the growing use of machines, which could produce jewelry with clean lines, and produce it in greater amounts than was possible in the past.
Art Deco also was
How would you describe the aesthetics of Art Deco jewelry? Art Deco is, as Faber so perfectly described it, graphic, linear and geometric. To see these traits on a large scale, one merely has to look at some of New York City’s most iconic buildings, the Chrysler and Rockefeller Center.
Levy noted that there are two forces at play in any Art Deco piece. There’s the very strong, geometric structure and then the expression taking place within that structure.
Think: the floral or pyramid-like patterns visible in the beautiful, clean diamond and colored gemstone-set bracelets, brooches and earrings from houses such as Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier and, in the United States, Raymond Yard.
Art Deco also was the era that Cartier’s artisans came up with the Tutti Frutti design, which featured diamond and carved, colored gemstones, influenced by the Mughal period in India.
What materials were popular? Platinum was the most widely used metal of the era.
Gemstone-wise, it was diamonds and colored stones, particularly the big three: sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Levy said there also were a lot of fancy cuts used during the period, including fancy cuts in color.
Is Art Deco the most influential period in jewelry design? Both Levy and Faber said yes.
“Etruscan and Scythian jewelry shows up most often throughout (history) but I think Art Deco in the modern era is strongest, and I think it’s the most popular,” Faber said.
It’s enjoyed a number of revivals throughout history, including in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and influences the geometric designs that are en vogue today.
The clean lines continue to appeal.
“You never get tired of it,” Faber said. “I never get tired of looking at the Chrysler Building and jewelry has a lot of the same visual appeal. There’s always something new to see in the design.”
How can retailers add authentic Art Deco pieces to their estate jewelry inventory? Levy said jewelers need to be pro-active in order to snag pieces from this still-popular era.
She recommended attending estate jewelry shows--one example is Lueur, which is coming up at end of October in New York--as well as visiting reputable dealers to look at jewelry, analyze its quality and compare prices.
Price points for Art Deco jewelry start as low as $2,000 for a simple bar pin and can climb to $10,000 to $20,000 for bracelets that aren’t signed, which Levy considers a good deal. More elaborate signed pieces, meanwhile, can sell for upwards of $1 million at auction.
Faber also recommended the auction houses as good sources for retailers, as they edit their offerings carefully. “You’d be less likely to find authentic Art Deco privately,” she said.
Jeff Gennette will step down in February 2024, passing the torch to the CEO of another notable retailer.
Artisan Martin Roberts fashioned lunar meteorites into 48 beads to create this out-of-this-world necklace.
Distinguishing natural diamonds from laboratory-grown stones – now more available than ever – has been difficult for jewelers. Until now.
As for new members, the organization welcomed Jewelers of America’s Annie Doresca and Parag Jain of Parag Diamonds.
Jacob & Co.’s new “Billionaire” timepiece features more than 200 carats of yellow diamonds.
Heidi Horten, wife of department store magnate Helmut Horten, collected jewelry from Bulgari, Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels.
De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.
The jewelry industry insurer and solutions provider is celebrating 110 years in business this month.
The statement came as the National Retail Federation released its retail sales forecast for 2023.
Sotheby’s will auction the diamond, which it says is “arguably the most significant pink diamond to ever appear at auction,” in June.
The retailer, recently acquired by Signet Jewelers, will lay off 119 employees in July.
The Swiss watchmaker introduced 17 new models at Watches & Wonders Geneva.
As part of the promotion, Smith will share his sales expertise during a 90-minute training session.
At Watches & Wonders, the Swiss brand unveiled a follow-up to last year’s Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante.
The “rêve” collection’s engagement rings and wedding bands are geared toward “sustainability minded customers.”
A new word appears on the dial each day of the week.
Bensons Jewelers closed for good Feb. 24, impacted in part by the decline in foot traffic downtown since the onset of the pandemic.
Kolja Kiofsky has been with the crystal and jewelry company since 2010.
The Kruse GWS Auctions sale will include the replica “Taj Mahal” necklace Elizabeth Taylor made with Avon as well as a costume piece Marilyn Monroe wore.
Massimo Basei is moving up, while Chief Commercial Officer Martino Pessina is stepping down.
AGTA GemFair and the Denver Gem & Mineral Show also will have a presence on the show floor.
Sold by Christie’s Hong Kong, this masterwork of complications now holds the record for most expensive watch ever auctioned online.
The watch company expects first-quarter sales to fall as much as 15 percent due to inflation and tough comps.
Adam O’Grady, general manager of the Lightbox Lab, has taken on the new role and will report directly to Lightbox CEO Antoine Borde.
The watch marketplace gathered data from 1.3 million collectors, highlighting the most popular timepieces and exploring value appreciation.
Burgundy has opted not to exercise its option to buy the mining claims Gibb River Diamonds currently owns.