HomeBuying & Selling20th Century Collectable Jewellery

This is the final in the blog series about the ages of jewellery and this week we’re focusing on 20th Century Collectable Jewellery, including Art Deco and Retro styles, both of which have maintained popularity well into the 21st Century for collectors and enthusiasts.

Art Deco Jewellery (1915–1935)

A stylized design which was named after the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, held in Paris, France. Much Art Deco design was a transition from the earlier Art Nouveau and, as with the Art Nouveau epoch, was inspired by the art of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture. Art Deco jewellery motifs are characterized by geometric designs, diverse combinations of colour, and abstract patterns. In 1922, the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt inspired another Egyptian revival. Influences from cubism as well as African, oriental, Persian, Islamic, and Jugendstil designs were common in Art Deco jewelry. The early 1920s’ interest in Cubism and Dadaism as a new art form greatly influenced the Art Deco period. Additionally, the mysteries of the pyramids and a continuing revival of astrological studies lent themselves to Art Deco designs, which in turn were incorporated in the Art Moderne period following 1930.

Art Deco style in other European countries was largely derivative, like the Italian G. Ravasco’s diamond-studded geometric creations or Theodor Fahmer’s later jewels. Some London jewellers, like Asprey and Mappin & Webb, produced Art Deco-style confections, but these are largely unsigned, so the designers are unknown. Some British design jewellers, however–like Sibyl Dunlop, Harold Stabler and H. G. Murphy, known primarily for their Arts and Crafts pieces–produced decidedly modern jewellery.

George Jensen’s firm in Copenhagen continued to produce silver jewellery in the Art Deco era, adding sharp geometric forms to its repertoire of stylized motifs; these in turn were imitated by a host of European jewellers. George Jensen is a robust collector field and we generally are able to maintain a good stock of his jewellery.

Art Deco jewellery is an enormously popular collectable in Australia. We strive to maintain a good selection of pieces, but apologise in advance if our cupboards are bare. It is due to energetic buying by our clients, not our lassitude in maintaining stock levels. If you are wanting to ‘sell’ any Art Deco pieces, please contact us, we are keen to buy large and/or small numbers of items from this period.

Art-deco jewelry is one of the most sought-after jewelry categories, as demonstrated by auction results. Entire shows and shops are dedicated to just this passion.

Retro Jewellery (1945–1960)

Inspired by Hollywood, Retro jewellery is colourful, bold and elaborate. Most commonly worn were large cocktail rings, bracelets, watches, necklaces and charm bracelets. Possibly one of the fastest growing fields at this time. People are often embracing the whole lifestyle, dressing from top to to in ‘Retro’, driving cars of the period etc. If you see a great piece, buy it, supply will quickly be exceeded by demand and values will escalate….quickly.

Art Organique Jewellery (20th century – )

This style comes in the form of nature-inspired and more abstract geometric jewellery design inspired by the sciences, especially ecology, structural biology, and mathematics. Art Organique is characterized by continuity, flow, and movement as expressed in distinctly three-dimensional forms. According to the philosophy of the style, art should reflect man and nature. The goal is to understand nature’s underlying ‘spirit’ rather than merely copying natural form.

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