Art Deco jewelry : New jewels for a freer fashion

Women’s fashion deeply changed with the First World War (1914-1918). With the physical work made by the women in the place of men during the war, the corset was not worn. The hemlines and the sleeves began shorter and the women had short haircuts.
In the 1920s, Fashion designers created clothes with light fabrics. Women wanted to feel freer in their movements and dismissed bulky long skirts and petticoats. The light fabrics, shorter and sleeker clothes were popular. Cotton, silk and rayon were the most used fabrics. At the end of the war, women didn’t want to go back to their old life and wanted to wear freer clothes. In the Parisian life, new fashion trends appeared like sleeveless dresses, short haircuts, pants, make up and accessories.
Jewelry get adapted to these new fashion trends with more discreet, sober jewels. Platinum was used. The large floral brooches and dog collar necklaces disappeared because it was not anymore practical for the emancipated women. The new lifestyle implied different types of jewelry (less cumbersome and showy). Jewelry became geometric, graphic and sober.
The elegant and freer clothes needed new types of jewelry. Women were more able to express themselves through their outfits and jewels. Sleeveless dresses, plunging neckline and short haircut allowed women to wear more jewels. In the 1920s, women had the flapper look (short haircut and freer dresses).
With light fabrics and sleeveless dresses, designers began to adorn women’s arms with jewels. Cartier invented the shoulder jewel.

The introduction of mittens encouraged jewellers to create rings (geometric, embellished with gemstones, carved gemstones…) and bracelets (often accumulated, multi-strand bracelets…).


Paul Poiret  revolutionized fashion ; he dropped the waistline to the hips and designed slit skirts allowing women to move and dance (tango, Charleston and Foxtrot). Fringe dresses were very popular. During the 1920s, women wore rings and bracelets. “Les années folles” designated the period between the end of the First World War and the economic crisis of 1929 in the United States of America. They also enjoyed smoking cigarettes, drinking cocktails, wearing make up…

In 1926, Gabrielle Chanel was renowed by Vogue with her ” little black dress”.

Chanel, 1926

At night, women adorned their hair with a hairband or a bandeau embellished with fine stones. They also wore low back dresses showing their necklace. The outfits and jewels changed depending on the hour of the day.


A spirit of freedom and renewal flowed. These new clothes allowed women to have leisure and sport activities (golf, tennis…). Women get access to sportive activities. Sportwear lines appeared ; Jean Patou designed dresses for the tenniswoman Suzanne Lenglen. The wrist watch became popular thanks to her.

Despite the emancipation of women, laws remained against them (law against abortion, no right to vote, social and work inequalities, dependence to the men…). Women were still considered as inferior towards men.

The new fashion needed new types of jewels such as the sautoirs and shorter necklaces worn on an open neckline.

Sautoirs (long and fluid long necklaces) were very fashionable. Pearl sautoirs were a must-have. The jewelry brand Técla was famous for its culture pearl necklaces. Coco Chanel promoted sautoirs namely pearl sautoirs including fake pearls.

Necklaces and namely multi-strand necklaces flourished.

The jabots (“a pin with a decorative element at each end connected by a metal rod hidden beneath the garment”), brooches and dress clips became fashionable. It could be worn on a hat, on a dress…

Dress clips (“a type of pin that first gained prominence in the 1920s and were worn in pairs, often opposite one another on the neckline or straps of a dress”) were popular.

Bracelets adorned women’s bare arms ; it completed the outfit of women with a short hairstyle. Bracelet, cuffs and bangles could be accumulated.

Bangles were often accumulated.

Cuffs adorned women’s wrists.

They also often wore hats. Jewels could decorate their hats (brooches, hair pins…).

With the shorter hairstyles, long earrings became fashionable.3C3542E4-3015-46DA-B363-0612BF65C4B4

The stock market crash in 1929 caused deep changes even on fashion. In the 1930s, outfits changed ; the waistline was raised and the garments were more feminine. Clothes enhanced the shapes of woman body. Coco Chanel designed tailored suits for the day. In the evening, silence wore long dresses and shawls embellished with large brooches. Jewelry market wasn’t affected by the economic crisis of 1929. The voluminous ear clips, large bracelets embellished with diamonds were fashionable. Monochromatic jewels with white metals (platinum, white gold…) and with a large variety of diamond cuts were popular.


In the 1920s and 1930s, it was allowed for women to wear makeup and to smoke cigarettes in public… New embellished objects (enamel, gold, fine stones…) appeared like minaudières (small evening bag), vanity cases, cigarette cases, compacts and lipsticks. Jewelers like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels designed these objects. Besides, modest women could own these objects thanks to less expensive materials like enamel, artificial stones, metal and plastic (bakelite and Galilite).

Cigarettes were a symbol of freedom and glamour. Cinema movie stars used to smoke in movies. Smoking was very photogenic and cinematographic.


Make up accessories flourished : compacts (“cosmetic product. It is usually a small round metal case and contains two or more of the following: a mirror, pressed or loose face powder”), vanity cases, lipstick cases, embellished lipsticks, compact bracelets…4A108533-0B16-40CC-A7C8-E907C56541B1


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