By Danielle Olivia Tefft
I see lots of online listings for antique and vintage jewelry that confuse Edwardian (1901-1910) style with Art Deco (1920-1939) style. It’s so easy to do, as both have many similarities. But both styles have distinct characteristics that make them different, as well. Here are some helpful tips for you when determining whether jewelry is from the Edwardian era or the Art Deco era:
Both Edwardian and Art Deco fine jewelry is often made of platinum. Upon the death of Queen Victoria, a new age of Opulence among the very wealthy began. It was spearheaded by the beautiful Queen Alexandra, King Edward’s wife. She wore exquisite jewelry dripping in diamonds and pearls.
Cartier, official jeweler of the British throne at the time, made most of it in platinum by a newly discovered process for working the extremely hard white metal. It was the perfect setting for diamonds and pearls. The look of platinum soon caught on with the general public on both sides of the Atlantic. Platinum and white gold (starting in the Art Deco era) were the favorite fine jewelry metals until World War II.
Both Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry settings are often “lace-like” in appearance. Thank platinum for this feature which made it capable to create intricate details in jewelry without the heaviness of classical Georgian (1714-1837) pieces they imitated.
Both Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry often have fine millegrain detail work. Millegrain looks like tiny round beads set close together, often to form an ornate border.
Both Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry may have Asscher cut diamonds. The sensational Asscher eight- sided step cut was invented in 1902, during Edwardian times. It was an instant hit. But it became even more popular during the Art Deco era.
Edwardian jewelry has curved lines and features like floral vines, scrolls and loops.
Edwardian rings often have dome or navette (elongated oval) shapes.
Art Deco jewelry has straight lines and incorporates distinct geometric shapes like triangles, rectangles, octagons, hexagons and chevrons.
Art Deco fine jewelry often incorporates rectangular baguette shape and emerald cut diamonds. Art Deco costume jewelry incorporates glass gemstones in these shapes.
Art Deco jewelry can be made of white gold or platinum. White gold began to be sold commercially around 1912. It was most popular during the 1920s.
Hopefully these tips will help you tell the difference between Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry. Keep in mind that there are also transitional pieces that masterfully blend style elements of both time periods. When I come across this type of jewelry, I often categorize it as, “late Edwardian transitional” or “transitional early Art Deco.”
Do you have a favorite Edwardian or Art Deco piece of jewelry? If so please tell us about it and what characteristics make you love it so much in the comments section. And as always, please subscribe to this blog if you love antique and vintage jewelry as much as we do!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her to write for you? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!