What Jewellery Was Worn in the 1920s: Jewelry From the 20th Century

The period between the two world wars reveals itself clearly when one considers the direction of jewelry design. New designs, different orientations, and unprecedented interactions adorn this period. Of course, there could be many reasons that led the 1920s and 1930s to a new jewelry design. Probably the first reason that comes to mind is that women’s fashion, which has taken on a completely different look compared to previous years, needs new jewelry. So, do you know what jewelry was worn in the 1920s?

It should be remembered that the period between 1920 and 1930 in jewelry design was determined as a full Art Deco period. Of course, the dazzling, courageous, strong, and contrasting colored jewelry followed in this process were also decorated with semi-precious stones such as coral and turquoise, creating a different jewelry line. Exotic striped jewelry designs began to replace the enamel craftsmanship designs of previous periods, and this line was defined as Art Deco (Decorative Art) after the International Decorative and Modern Industrial Art Exhibition opened in Paris in 1925.

The Jewelry Movement of the 1920s: Art Deco

Picasso, who shaped this style with luxury, the rhythm of jazz, avant-garde works of art, and most importantly cubist works, brought universality to Art Deco art. The fact that new art movements have a say in the rapidly changing social structure has also affected many art fields. Architecture, music, painting, jewelry design; It was reshaped by the cubists, surrealists, and futurists with the Art Deco art movement. Art Deco art was renewed in 1925 with the contribution of the Bauhaus school.

The rapidly developing technology after World War I restructured the industry quickly. Consumption in society increased rapidly. Nostalgic buildings and artifacts of the 1920s were replaced by energetic, creative, cubist industrial structures with geometric figures in this period. With the developing industry, the textile and fashion industry also entered a rapid development process. With the entry of women into business life, there has been a change in the way of dressing. People used sporty, flashy but comfortable clothes in their daily lives.

The clothing industry started to produce in this direction. New trends and new styles were quickly formed and adopted. In the face of this change in society, Coco Chanel created the “Jung style” style in order to react against the public going out with expensive jewelry. In this style, jewelry was inexpensive everyday jewelry made of colorful glass, ceramic, and plastic beads. Thus, the word ‘jewelry’ entered the concept of jewelry for the first time.

Expression language in Art Deco style became simple, aesthetic, and functional, with the use of many materials from the most expensive to the cheapest. The multi-colored ornamental stones were set on the stone material in a particularly baguette-cut and uninterrupted row. In 1910, Coco Chanel started to shape this movement by using Cubist forms as well as Eastern influences in the stage costumes she prepared for the show of the Russian Ballet Ensemble in Paris, in the costumes decorated with Art Deco jewelry.

In the 1920s, technology was used extensively in jewelry making. Differently, three new materials were used in Art Deco jewelry making. These were catfish skin, shark skin, and eggshells. Manuel Capdevile Massana reflected Art Deco’s passion for contrasting colors in the 1930s, with cubist movements in his jewelry made with eggshell crumbs. Art Deco designs were meant to reflect the joy of living in the post-war environment. Jewelry was now completely accepted as a part of daily life.

Simple, geometric forms (square, rectangle, circle, triangle) gained a different appearance with volumes and lines made like works of art by using contrasting colors. The idea that started in Paris with the slogan of ‘Jewelry Suitable for Clothing’ and spread to other European countries and America was adopted by the Art Deco art movement. British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Cartier, who is one of the travelers and archaeologists to whom the state has given great support, documented the Ancient Egyptian jewelry unearthed from Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1925, which inspired many jewelry designers as a design.

Brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Boucheron have used the Egyptian figure ‘scrabe’ as a design. The expressions in the sarcophagi and the sun symbols are embroidered on the jewels in the design. This information added new lines to the Art Deco movement. In France and America, fashion for women was beginning to take shape in the 1930s. Popular low-waist clothing, long necklaces were integrated with pendants adorning the back. Wearing sleeveless dresses with long gloves enabled wide bracelets to be designed. Belts, hats, and shoes were decorated with clips and buckles. Along with the short-cut hair, long earrings and hair combs became fashionable. With the development of industry, new materials and techniques also affected jewelry making, and the use of synthetic materials in jewelry became widespread.

These materials have easily replaced many heavy metals due to reasons such as easy shaping, lightness, and strength. Inexpensive jewelry was made using metals such as silver, chrome, and brass, which were cheaper than gold and platinum. Inexpensive but plated jewelry could be bought by the people whose financial power was weakened after the war. Thus, Art Deco designed jewelry reached all kinds of customers. It became a part of daily life. The collapse of the stock market as a result of the great economic crisis in the United States at the end of the 1930s created unemployment and despair in society.

The jewelry industry took the biggest share of this bad situation. The people, who could not afford to buy expensive jewelry, turned to imitations with different designs. The movement, which was formed as a reaction against this social collapse, came from Dadaists and Surrealists. In response to social unhappiness, jewelry was made in extreme forms and in very different forms. Surrealist artist Jean-Clement made luminous jewelry during this period. Louis Aragon designed jewelry in the form of aspirin. After the 1960s, Op Art, Kinetic Art school was born.

Jewelry After the 1920s: Op Art – Kinetic Art

Before the wounds of World War I was healed, the fascist parties in Italy, which were shaken by economic and political crises, and the Nazi parties in Germany brought the society to the brink of a new war. With the invasion of Poland by the German army in 1939, World War II officially started and became the biggest war in world history in the XX century. The advancement of the war industry with the development of technology led to the use of all economic, industrial, and scientific forces from civilian or military sources for warfare.

This war is the bloodiest war in human history where nuclear weapons were used and civilians were killed like in the Holocaust. With the horror of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the war ended and agreements were signed. This brutal destruction in history and the helplessness of mankind against the atom, the radiation emitted brought material and moral destruction for generations.

The space exploration of the United States of America and the Soviet Socialist Republics, in the hope of finding new worlds instead of the polluted world after the war, further developed the technology. With the rapid development of communication technology, borders have become closer. Cinema and television laid the foundations of globalization. Thus, one-dimensional management would begin to dominate.

After the Cold War, in the 1960s, student movements and Hippies (flower children) carried out passive peaceful movements to oppose the depression caused by the war and the intellectual world of the west. The dominance of cubism and surrealism in art between 1940-1950 gave way to a dynamic structure in the 1960s. Movements such as Op Art, Kinetic Art, and New Generationism emerged. A different fashion trend has been created, women who have become too thin have declared their freedom visually by using miniskirts and long slits, long narrow boots, and wide belts.

Between 1970 and 1980, there were years when there was no innovation in terms of art and thought, but the West achieved economic prosperity. In the 1990s, the era of electronic technology officially started, communication, computers, satellites and the internet entered daily life and showed a rapid development in a process that has reached the present day. The world has become truly globalized.

The tension and pause in art in the face of all these socio-political events also affected the art of jewelry. The art of jewelry could not produce anything new in the following processes and it constantly repeated the past. However, two sculptors, one American and the other Swedish, changed this situation and gave birth to the concept of post-modern jewelry.

Jewelry Right Before the 1920s: Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau emerged in the depressed era created by the industrial revolution of the 19th century when some sections of the society opposed this depressive process and tried to add some spiritual feelings to matter. The developing industry in this period increased the migration from the village to the city. The increasing immigration, the crowdedness in the cities, the lack of space, and the cultural conflict between the urbanites and the villagers have also completely changed the way people live, work, communicate and think.

The passion for modernization of the new century, which soon surrounded Europe and America, shaped cities and designs. The mixed and rich eclectic style, with influences from East Asian and Islamic arts and nature, created its own culture in Europe. This art movement, which dominated at the beginning of the XX century, took the medieval German, Celtic and Scandinavian art lines and combined with the views and expressions of Baroque and Rococo that dominated 18th century Europe, brought a new perspective.

In industrialized cities, the longing for nature and Darwin’s theory of examining the origin of species at that time were also reflected in the Art Nouveau art movement. Nude and half-naked female figures, whip ends, hair, erotic movements are symbols used. There are many depictions taken from nature. The forms of peacock, rooster, owl, swan, bat, snake, bee, and grasshopper, which are widely used in Egyptian art, were colored with the enamel technique. The design came to the fore in this period.

Ornamental stones are used a lot. Art Nouveau in France appeared under different names in other countries. It was named Modern Style in England, Judengstil in Germany, Secession Style in Austria, Stila Liberta in Italy, Modernizmo in Spain, Siecle in Finland, and Tiffany Style in America. The extreme ostentatiousness of the Art Nouveau art movement, a modern European style, was erased over time with the First World War and the economic crisis it created.

The leading names of the Art Nouveau movement are; Rene Lalique is the most important name of the Art Nouveau style in French jewelry. The artist, who lived between 1860-1945, started the jewelry business at the age of sixteen as an apprentice in the workshop of jewelry designer and goldsmith “Louis Aucoc”.

He later studied art at Sydenham College in England. With the education he received, he made successful designs in the fields of jewelry, fans, wallpaper, and textiles. He has special designs and collections for Queen of England Alexandra, Armenian banker Gulbenkain and famous artist Sarah Bernhard. These works are exhibited in the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon. These were the names that brought Lalique fame at that time. He theatrically described the subjects taken from nature in his jewelry, using opal moonstone. He described women with wings or tails in a fantastic way. In the new art movement, he is the first artist to use the horn in jewelry.

Henry Vever, who lived between 1854 and 1942, was a good critic and researcher writer in the field of Art Nouveau style. Henry Vever, who worked with his brother Paul in Maison Vever, the jewelry company founded by his father, also worked with Eugene Gnasset and Etienne Tourette, the famous designers of that period, and won a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Unlike Lalique, Henry abundantly used precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in his designs.

Georges Fouquet, who lived between 1862-1957, became the head of the jewelry company founded by his father in 1895, together with the famous designer Charles Destrosier, and made jewelry colored with enamel and ornamental stones. The designs in her jewels are golden, delicate floral motifs, and fantastic designs. Between 1921 and 1929, the Art Nouveau style became completely obsolete and was replaced by Art Deco.

Post Modern Jewelry Concept

American Alexsander Calder and Swedish Alberto Giocomentti are two well-known sculptors who pioneered the post-modern jewelry movement. Giocomentti is known for the rings and buttons he made with a surrealist perspective. Calder, who is a mechanical engineer and combines his engineering knowledge with jewelry, has also brought a different trend to jewelry. All of the jewelry works reflecting the XX century Neo-Renaissance were made by creative designers working in small workshops. People who received education in different fields such as architecture, sculpture, painting, and engineering were interested in jewelry and interpreted jewelry from a comprehensive new perspective.

Salvador Dali, one of the greatest artists of the XX century, made surrealist style products with his jewelry rather than his paintings. Another important name-making jewelry art; Braque, who was eighty-one years old at that time, made and exhibited one hundred and thirty-three pieces of jewelry at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. With the jewelry he exhibited in this period, he was not accepted as a pioneer of a new movement but was described as an indicator of art.

“As a follower of the New Renaissance, I do not limit myself. My art is not just painting. It covers physics, mathematics, atomic physics, architecture, psychology, the mystic of the microcosm, and jewelry. My jewelry is against the pure materialistic notion of jewelry. My goal is to truly show the art of jewelry. In other words, it is to put design before material value, as it was in the Renaissance.” (Dali-1959) The fact that these two artists made such magnificent jewelry was of course dependent on their good material knowledge and technical skills, apart from drawing.

Other famous names in jewelry design in the 1950s are; Duke of Verdura with Jean Schlumberger. Schlumberger jewelry is famous for reusing the enamel technique as well as for working designs. Schlumberger, who entered the Tiffany company in America in 1955, made completely special designs for his customers. The jewelry designs named “Leaves” and “Prickly Sea-Bird” prepared for Tiffany firm are the best examples. Angels, sea creatures, flowers are the shapes he mostly uses in his designs.

Schlumberger says in one of his speeches: “I almost became a psychoanalyst while creating these amazing toys. When a new customer walks in, I need to determine how he perceives his taste, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, superstitions, physical traits, and his own opinion. As you can see, I have to know the physical environment my jewelry will live in.” (Thomas-1987)

Fulco Santo Stefano Della Cerda or Duke of Verdura comes from a noble family in Sicily. He first started working in Italy as a textile designer for Coco Chanel. He became the jewelry designer of Chanel after his work, which attracted attention and appreciation. He then settled in the United States and established his own firm. Their designs have the characteristic feature of naturalistic expression. It was also aimed that the jewelry would increase the value of the wearer and not overshadow him. Round lines, braid, and rope-shaped models are decorated with diamonds. Feathers, wings, and leaves are the forms used. This unique line he created during his period ensured that he was not affected economically in an environment of economic crisis.

The 1960s were shaped by the designs of Dali and Braque in the 1950s. The level of excellence in the value given to handicrafts was achieved by using precious, semi-precious, and non-precious stones. Metal concepts were once again questioned. The clothing industry, which was shaped according to the economic and social environment in the 1960s, naturally affected jewelry to a great extent. The complete formation of the concept of fashion has made it popular for designers who make jewelry according to clothes and jewelry according to the person.

Technological developments, the rapid spread of communication networks also paved the way for thinking and appearance to begin to gather in people. The emergence of show business on television has caused the concept of one-stop fashion to spread. In addition to those made with precious stones such as jewelry, fashion, and jewelry production watched from movies and movies brought along imitation jewelry that can be bought by every segment. Imitation jewelry production, which is a completely new and permanent sector, has entered our lives.

Jewelers and jewelers turned to new designs in order to catch the market demand against this newly formed sector. The jewelry industry, which could not form a whole with different lines, could never create a style. In the 1970s, the stagnation in thought and philosophy, and thus in art movements, also affected jewelry design. II. Art Deco style, whose influence began to wane after World War II, left its place to original and individual designs. The designs started to be made more classical and rounded.

With the developing economy in the 1980s, the existence of women as well as men in business areas has now been fully embraced. Jewels and pearls worn by women were widely used to represent not only their beauty but also their wealth and power. Earrings gained great importance as well as other accessories for men.

If we look at jewelry design from the 1990s and today; The dominant line for jewelers and designers is almost a repetition of the past. The information obtained from historical sources was abstracted and modernized and industrial production was started. With the advancement of technology, the fact that human beings can reach whatever they want at any time has led to the decline of the intellectual field, although the technological field has improved. The process of breaking away from nature, which started with the Industrial Revolution, has almost completely taken place.

The development of communication has also caused ideas to come out of one hand and to be taken for granted by people, thus dulling the mindset that questions and produces something new. The person who developed the technology actually became the slave of the technology and started to standardize. The creative art left its place in repetitive designs. Designs have started to be accepted as a part of industrial products by constantly repeating the past, producing with a few changes. The concept of art for art has disappeared in a way.

Best Old-Fashioned Jewelry That You Can Buy Online

Savaş Ateş

I like reading books. I like to read about jewelry too. After reading a lot of books about it, I have started to visit jewelry manufacturers and stores. It is my number 1 hobby.

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