Art Deco received its moniker from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, which was largely dedicated to the jewelry arts. Emphasis was placed on the association of art and modern industry. Inspiration for this style was as far reaching as Oriental, African and South American Art and as varied as Cubism and Fauvism, both popular movements at the time. The term "Cubism" was often used to describe jewelry of this era because of the angles, geometric lines and figurative representations used in its execution. A desire to eliminate the flowing lines of Art Nouveau and distill designs to their rudimentary geometric essence, thus eliminating seemingly unnecessary ornament, resulted in the cleaner and more rigid lines employed in Art Deco jewelry. A look forward toward modernism and the machine age also featured prominently at this juncture in jewelry history.
During the Art Deco era, advancements in cutting techniques, including the advent of the modern round brilliant cut style, allowed for diamonds to become more dazzling and scintillating than ever before. Meanwhile, prosperity was permitting more people to afford diamond jewelry and engagement rings. New casting techniques further increased accessibility, as jewelers discovered more efficient ways to produce the most intricately detailed of settings.
Lapis lazuli is a rock aggregate made up from – predominantly – the minerals lazurite, sodalite, nosalite and hauyne. It has a typical cobalt blue color, often with patches of pyrite (golden) and/ or calcite (white). It was this rock which was powdered to create the ultramarine pigment used by painters prior to the 19th century. Historically this gemstone comes from Afghanistan and this location was reported by Marco Polo as early as 1271, although the Romans already knew about and even the Bible refers to this aggregate of such a wonderful color. Another famous locality where lapis lazuli is mined is in the Andes mountain range of Chile.
Marcasite is an iron sulfide mineral with an orthorhombic crystal structure. It is very brittle and unsuitable for jewelry. What we call "marcasite" in jewelry is actually Pyrite – "fools gold" – that has been faceted to imitate diamonds. Popular from around 1700 onward, marcasite is usually found mounted in silver. Because of its golden yellow color and metallic luster, Marcasite has remained popular in higher quality fashion jewelry. In antique jewelry, marcasite can be distinguished from cut steel faux gems because marcasites are usually bead or prong-set as a gemstone would be and cut steel is riveted.
Silver is a white metallic element, harder than gold, softer than copper and second only to gold in malleability and ductility. Represented on the Periodic Table of the Elements by the symbol Ag, silver is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Silver is considered one of the noble metals because of it is excellent resistance to oxidation. Historically, silver has played a prominent role in the production of jewelry an objets d'art and is usually alloyed with another metal to harden it enough to maintain the desired shape and details imparted to it.