Emerald, king of the beryl family, has been regarded as a mystical stone since antiquity. According to legend, one could see into the future by placing an emerald under the tongue. Worn on the person, it could protect against evil spells and cure diseases. Magical and curative properties aside, it has been prized for millennia for it's incomparable verdant color. Pliny the Elder put it best when he wrote of the emerald, "Nothing greens greener." This c. 1920 rectangular cluster ring features two emeralds (.18ct and .16ct) haloed by 16 .015ct single cut diamonds. The platinum-topped 18k yellow gold mounting features tapered shoulders and a low gallery detailed with petal-shaped openwork. An early Deco take on the toi et moi style à la Josephine and Napoleon.
ART DECO (1915 – 1940)
Art Deco is highly recognizable for its minimalism and futurism. Simultaneous art movements—Cubism, Bauhaus—informed the geometric style, along with “exotic” foreign influences like the Ballet Russe. Motifs like ziggurats and sunbursts, stripped of visual clutter, conveyed the optimism of an increasingly technological world.
In jewelry, the predominant use of white metals let colorful gems take center stage. Stones that were opaque and true in color, like lapis lazuli, onyx, jade, coral, and opal were worked into designs alongside more precious and brilliant gems, like diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Extra-long beaded necklaces and tasseled “sautoirs” followed the narrow flapper silhouette.
The baguette cut was an Art Deco innovation, and the decade saw increased use of other angular diamond cuts, like the precise caliber cut and the emerald cut. Synthetic gems, like sapphires, were celebrated as a scientific marvel. Marcel Tolkowsky, 21 years old at the time, published the design for the round brilliant cut in 1919.