What is Art Deco? Engagement Rings, Wedding Rings & More

What is art deco?

Fact: modern women love vintage jewelry. Why? “Vintage” isn’t just “antique”—vintage jewelry represents the best of the best designs and fashions of bygone eras and the women who wear them get a piece of history with fashionable, yet timeless appeal. But to get that piece of history, you need to know your history! Different eras have widely different aesthetics, which can make a big difference on what you look for in a vintage (or vintage-inspired) ring. Today we’ll be looking at the Art Deco era and how art deco engagement rings and other jewelry capture the beauty of this refined, elegant style.

Origins of Art Deco

Art Deco was a design and architectural style that achieved global renown in the 1920s and 30s. It’s name derives from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, an event held in Paris in 1925 which helped to define the style. One of the most famous examples of Art Deco design and architecture is the Chrysler building in New York City.

Art Deco drew inspiration from fine art movements such as Cubism practiced by Picasso and other celebrated painters. It was also influenced by ancient Egyptian and Mayan architecture, as well as new building materials of the era such as chrome plating, stainless steel and plastic. After gaining international popularity throughout the 1930s, however, it began to lose dominance in favor of more functional styles of modernism after the onset of World War II.

Origins of Art Deco

Art Deco Design Signatures

The Art Deco design style is defined by bold geometric patterns, clean lines, streamlined forms, sleek composition, curved shapes, smooth surfaces, and exquisite craftsmanship.

Art Deco architecture, art, fashion, and home furnishings all share a common visual vocabulary, often featuring repeated zigzagged, triangular, and trapezoidal shapes. Sunburst and fan motifs are also frequently included. You may also see chevrons, spires, lightning bolts, sweeping curves, and stylized insignias.

Art Deco Design Signatures

Art Deco Engagement Rings

If you’re looking for an engagement ring that reflects a roaring 20s, Great Gatsby sensibility, check out settings designed with an art deco influence. Art deco engagement rings are more likely to have cluster settings, curved accents, arched halos, open metal work around the center and other features that were popular in the 1920s and ‘30s, but are less prominent now. In some cases, you may find multiple halos, tapered shoulders, and milgrain detail which were more prominent during the earlier Edwardian period, but which often popped up in Art Deco era jewelry as well. These settings are glamorous, but also have a nice airy feeling, making them extraordinarily well-balanced pieces of jewelry.

The diamond can also have a big impact on the appearance of your ring. Many vintage rings will have older cuts with less sparkle than modern cuts, but there are certain diamond cuts which have withstood the test of time—particularly the cushion, Asscher, and emerald cut diamond. These were some of the most popular cuts in the 1920s, and they are still popular today.

The Asscher and emerald cuts in particular are associated with the Art Deco era, as these are step cuts which exhibit a “hall of mirrors” effect when looking at the diamond from above. Take a look at this custom bezel-set ring to see how the clean, symmetrical lines of an emerald cut diamond beautifully echo the style of Art Deco.

Art Deco Engagement Rings

Art Deco in Wedding Rings

Platinum was usually the metal of choice for Art Deco style wedding bands in the 1920s, but yellow and rose gold also provide a traditional look. Other trademarks of Art Deco rings include wider than usual bands, double or triple rows of gems, and milgrain beading. Art Deco inspired wedding rings may feature engraved details such as sunbursts, fans, flowers and softly worn wheat. In addition to milgrain beading, a band styled with a bead pave encompassed by faux-channel rims is another way of nodding to the Art Deco aesthetic.

Art Deco in Wedding Rings

Art Deco Jewelry

When looking at any piece of jewelry, an Art Deco piece will stand out with its bright colors, bold geometric patterns, evocative shapes, and strong contrasts. Colorful gemstones can give Art Deco jewelry a distinctive vibrancy, while intricately styled cuts and designs will dazzle the eye. So if you’re looking to emulate the look of Old Hollywood, or experience the Prohibition Era indulgences of the roaring 20s, look no further than Art Deco!

Want to see more vintage styles? Check out our top 10 vintage engagement rings or learn more about finding inspiration in vintage designs.

Art Deco Jewelry

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