Typified by clean lines and geometric shapes, Art Deco design cast aside the previous naturalist forms of the Art Noveau period. Representative of a time of the beginning of air travel, postwar freedom and experimentation, Art Deco originated in the 1920s and saw a change in tastes following the ravages of World War 1. It was the era of modernity; flapper dresses, strands of pearls, sparkly bangles, colour and contrast.

A selection of Art Deco items in the next Cheffins Jewellery, Silver & Watches sale on 26th August.

The master jewellers of the time who typified the period include the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Cartier and Fouquet, who brought about unusual precious stone and gem combinations, mixed with clean lines and geometry, reflecting the changes in women’s fashions throughout Europe and further afield.

Art Deco pieces have held their values in the antique market more than any other jewellery style, which has been helped by its popularity with celebrities. Most notably, Meghan Markle’s tiara at the Royal Wedding was an Art Deco piece from the 1930s, whilst Pippa Middleton and Scarlett Johannson are both owners of Art Deco engagement rings.

Indeed, demand has been high for antique items for some time now and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing, with strong prices being achieved for the best examples at auction rooms up and down the country. As during the period designers would only tend to create a handful of examples of each piece, there will often be only around 50 – 100 items hitting the market in the space of a year, with this rarity all adding to a piece’s cachet. This has also led to an increase in modern day designers creating pieces in Art Deco styles. These clean lines can now be seen amongst all of the main collections of the top tier jewellery houses, with also smaller makes and brands continuing to emulate the style. For example, we have a beautiful pair of Art Deco style sapphire and diamond ear pendants available at the next auction, with an estimate of £3,000 to £5,000 (pictured below). These hold a fairly hefty value, despite being modern, due to the quality of the stones and the style in which they have been created.

Art Deco style ear pendants and bracelet in the next Cheffins Jewellery, Silver and Watches sale on 26th August. 

Availability and quality are what drives this market, with the best and most sought-after items include necklaces, brooches, bracelets and rings which are linear with geometric design. Bracelets in particular, re-modelled featuring old cut diamonds and coloured stones, are in high demand, and we have a good example available at the next auction, with an Art Deco synthetic sapphire and diamond bracelet set to sell for between £2,000 to £4,000. It’s the look and the style that wins and classic Deco forms, geometric patterns, angular styling and clean lines, especially those set in white metals especially platinum, which could be worked in to strong but flexible designs, are what buyers are queuing up for. Alongside jewellery pieces, other sections of the market include beautiful travelling compacts, made out of previous metals and embedded with gemstones, or Art Deco style watches. All of which can now command some serious prices at auction. In the next Jewellery, Silver and Watches Sale, an Art Deco 9ct gold and diamond set travelling compact by Cartier is estimated to sell from £1,500 - £2,500 (below).

Cartier travelling compact - estimate £1,500 - £2,500

Would-be collectors should also not dismiss the costume jewellery of the Art Deco period either, often green glass was used in place of real emeralds or paste rubies and sapphires and whilst these do not generate the same prices as their more expensive counterparts, they can represent an entry into the market for new investors with prices starting from around £100 for a pair of Chanel faux pearl earrings and a couple of hundred pounds for long necklaces. Costume jewellery by good names such as Trifari, Coro, and Chanel are also sought after.  Fashion does change quite quickly but as we all know, all those things we loved, and then hated, do come back round again.  Mademoiselle Coco herself wasn’t shy of wearing costume jewellery and liked to mix real and costume jewellery at the same time.    “A woman should mix fake and real,” she once declared. “The point of jewellery isn’t to make a woman look rich but to adorn her—not the same thing.” 

When buying always look for items in good condition.  Detail such as nice clasp will also give you an indication of quality and any original boxes or packaging really adds and also gives an indication of authenticity.  The holy grail of course is to find a piece in great condition, in the original case, and with the signature of a famous maker, but they really are few and far between.

The next Cheffins Jewellery, Silver and Watches Sale includes a number of Art Deco pieces (as pictured above), with estimates ranging from £100 - £5,000. To view the catalogue click here.