This sarcophagus pendant was made in the 1920s, when a craze for all things Egyptian was sweeping the world of fashion and design. Coverage of the newly unearthed tomb of King Tutankhamun flooded American and European homes with images of "exotic" Egyptian hieroglyphics and wall paintings, and these influences bubbled to the surface in the decorative arts. The coin silver sarcophagus is adorned with multi-colored enamel. The pendant opens from the top to reveal a gilt interior and swaddled silver mummy(!) waiting for his after-life party to begin. The pendant measures about 1 1/8" from top to bottom and hangs from a new 18" sterling silver chain.
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.