Art Deco Jewelry Buying Guide: Cartier Bracelets, Evening Bags, and Timepieces

The Art Deco period of the 1920s and 30s was an exciting time for fashion and jewelry. Coco Chanel introduced her classic two piece suits that are still worn by fashionable women all over the world today.

Famous jewelry designers such as Cartier created some of their most influential pieces of jewelry and accessories, including bracelets, handbags, and timepieces such as the “mystery clock.”

Great Depression? Not for Art Deco Jewelry

One would have thought that jewelry would take on a more conservative and understated style after the financial crash of 1929, but this simply wasn’t the case. Fashionable American and European women of the 30s wore diamond and gem-set bracelets of geometric design either alone or layered upon the wrist. Diamond sautoirs, plaque brooches and dress clips adorned dresses, and long cascading earpendants were all the rage.

Tick Tock… the Cartier Mystery Clock

The Art Deco period gave us much more than just fabulous jewelry – many quintessential accessories from this period are just as coveted. With the introduction of the “Mystery Clock,” Cartier established themselves as a designer of fine timepieces as well as jewelry. Made from carved hardstones such as jade, onyx or agate, the clocks shine with enamel and gem-set accents. The “mystery” stems from the invisible movement and the diamond hands that appear to float within rock crystal.

Diamonds in Her Eyes

If a woman needed eyewear to accompany her evening gown, she would wear a diamond encrusted lorgnette that with the simple push of a button would unfold into a pair of reading glasses.

Gemstones in the Evening

Lady’s evening bags in the Art Deco period were made from beautiful silk brocades and printed tapestries embellished with gold, enamel and gemstones.


Dating Jewelry – Art Deco & Retro Era

(Antique Jewelry University)

Guest Luxury Contributor: Victoria Bratberg is the Director of Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Department. A respected jewelry and gem expert, she appraises and brings to auction all categories of fine jewelry from early nineteenth century to modern designs by contemporary artists. Passionate about classic 1940s jewelry, Victoria started designing her own pieces inspired by the timeless, feminine styles of this period. She eventually left Sotheby’s to found Victoria Bratberg Jewelry, successfully developing and marketing her own line of jewelry. Victoria holds a bachelor of arts degree in the history of art from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. She is also a Graduate Gemologist, having received her training from the Gemological Institute of America in New York. She currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Twitter: SkinnerInc

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