Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Art Deco - Freedom For The Designer

By Eduard Rakting

Perhaps no style of jewelry has generated as much interest in recent years as art deco, something that takes people back to the 1920s and 1930s. The jazz age, with its flappers and bathtub gin, had a feel and look unlike any other in United States history. The designer of art deco jewelry used a range of materials that are generally not thought to be appropriate for accessories in the jewelry field.

But the excitement and wide-open nature of the time made it possible for productive designers and jewelry makers to put together an assortment of materials not generally used for their pieces. Jewelry masters could employ chrome, plastic and steel, in addition to an assortment of precious, semi-precious and metals, including platinum. All of these were used in various combinations to create some unique items that would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate.

Some of the most recognizable names in jewelry came from this exciting era, including Rene Lalique, Elsa Shiaparella, Paul Emile Brandt, Coco Chanel and Raymond Templier. Many designers saw their businesses grow because of a blazing interest in and appreciation for costume jewelry. While this type of jewelry does not use valuable metals and precious gems, finished pieces by top designers command high prices (due to rarity of the piece, one-of-a-kind items, and desirability for jewelry from a certain top-name designer).

In addition to the interesting colors and shapes of art deco jewelry already mentioned, the influence of Asian, Egyptian and other African cultures contributed to jewelry design. With countries far from Europe and the United States considered exotic, the cultural influences often found in picture poses made certain jewelry styles very desirable. In addition, jewelry designers and craftsmen used floral designs, futuristic styles and machine/metal influences to create new pieces. Art deco jewelry is often associated with strong geometric shapes as well. Designs ranging from very beautiful to silly and fanciful found equally large markets at one time or another.

Jewelry was only a part of a much larger art deco movement, with Paris as the center of activity. In fact, the style gets its name from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderns, held in Paris in 1925. It was here that designers and craftsmen displayed the new trend to a larger audience. From this seminal event, designers moved on to become even more creative in the art deco style. Those looking deeper into the broad history of the art deco movement will find furniture and buildings in this particular "genre" as well. The art deco feel and appearance certainly had its influence on designers who understand the trend.

What is most exciting today about the art deco movement, to many collectors and jewelry enthusiasts, is the freedom to experiment that the period offered to designers and craftsmen. Of course, this thrill of new and challenging methods has remained alive for some over the past 80 years. A variety of materials and construction processes allowed artists and craftsmen to create jewelry that still influences the jewelry and accessory fields today. Simply put, the art deco influence on jewelry makes modern-day classics of many pieces from this era. - 16651

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