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Art Deco: A Century of class
By India Today
Apr 29, 2022
Defined by class, chic, comfort and endorsed by top global icons including Daisy Fellowes, Coco Chanel, and Elsa Schiaparelli, Art Deco jewellery brought a momentous change and rewrote the history of fashion forever.
The term Art Deco was coined during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, which was largely devoted to the arts of jewellery.
This dramatic transformation was set in motion during the era of the first world war in Europe. Women had to forgo their layered and complicated outfits in favour of simple dressing that allowed them to do industrial work in absence of men who were on the war front. This era also heralded a resistance against the excesses of the previous European monarchies. Consequently, this change also impacted the jewellery styles. Called “style moderne,” this type of jewellery with symmetric and structured geometric lines continues to be highly sought after by collectors even today.
Eliminating the flowing lines of Art Nouveau, the movement sought to distil the designs to geometric simplicity to create spectacular, bold jewellery. One of the most important innovations during this period was the use of unconventional materials and techniques. Platinum and lacquer became a commonly employed material as well as the process of invisible setting and gem cutting. The understated elegance of pearls in line with the style of the movement resulted in pearl jewellery becoming an iconic fashion statement.
The Art Deco movement was rooted in inspirations from different cultures of the world. Countries of the Far East including India and China served as major inspirations. The style of Indian jewellery at the time also had a significant impact on the aesthetic movement. During the time, carved gemstones were extensively used for jewellery making in India. The Art Deco pieces were rendered in bold combinations of precious stones including emerald, sapphire, rubies, jade, lapis lazuli and were adorned with arabesque Persian motifs such as flowers, plants among others. It also advocated for the use of new combinations of materials such as lapis lazuli with gold and cornelian with turquoise. One of the other important influences on Art Deco jewellery came from what is called the ‘Egyptian Revival.’ It had come about with discoveries in Egypt, especially the unearthing of the tomb of Tutankhamen. Inspired by the Pharaohs, the new style incorporated traditional Egyptian motifs such as scarabs, pyramids, lotus blossoms, as well as the eye of Horus.