Art deco jewelry first became popular in the 1920s, during the age of flappers, jazz and the machine age. This type of jewelry was usually composed of a combination of pearls, rubies, gold, chrome, steel and sometimes plastic. These materials were shaped into geometric designs, such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles and arcs. There are several styles of art deco jewelry, to include glass, hammered metal, machined, and jeweled.
René Lalique pioneered the creation of glass art deco jewelry in the 1920s. This type of jewelry is made by blowing glass into various shapes and designs. Color is then added to the jewelry with colored glass that is ground into powders and picked up during the blowing process. Lalique's jewelry was usually created in the shapes of plants, flowers and insects that are decorated with precious stones. The most popular pieces of vintage glass jewelry are rings and necklaces.
Jene Dunand was a Swiss born designer who first created hammered metal art deco jewelry. Hammered metal jewelry is primarily made of silver or gold, as they are softer metals and therefore easier to work with. The most popular types of hammered metal jewelry are earrings, bracelets and brooches. Dunands designs often assumed geometric shapes with superimposed zigzags, triangles, lines and squares. A majority of this style of vintage jewelry is lacquered in black and red.
Machined art deco jewelry was first created by Jean Després. His jewelry had a masculine appearance that appealed to the liberated women of the Jazz era. He used a large array of geometric shapes that gave the jewelry an unwieldy appearance. This type of vintage jewelry reflects the industrial design training Després received during the First World War. Machined jewelry was often made of gold welded into large geometric shapes.
Raymond Templier designed the first of the art deco jewelry that used diamonds and rubies. This style of vintage jewelry kept the same geometric shapes but with added flare. Most pieces of jeweled vintage jewelry were made with onyx or other dark stones, against a platinum or white gold background.
Art deco jewelry usually reflects the character of the person wearing it. It comes in several designs to include Indian symbols, Mexican emblems, animals and insects. It is meant to be flashy and attract attention to the wearer. The popularity of art deco jewelry waned in the 1930s, but it is still worn today as costume jewelry.