The first gold-for-iron campaign began in 1813 in what is now Germany. To fund the Prussian effort to repel the forces of Napoleon, citizens were urged to donate their gold to the state and were given a piece of iron jewelry (what we now call Berlin iron)
in return. The drive for gold was quite successful, in fact, it was so successful that wearing gold during this period of war was frowned upon and seen as unpatriotic. Fast forward a century and we come to the second crusade to fund a war with private gold, this time at the outset of WWI. Modeled on the success of Berlin iron, Austro-Hungary encouraged it's citizens to make the empire a gift of their gold and silver and were given a piece of iron jewelry in it's place. This rare iron band encased in gold is an immaculate example of the nationalistic jewelry produced during this brief period of history. The inscription reads: "Gold gab ich für Eisen 1914 O.S.K" or "I gave gold for iron 1914". Click here
to see a similar ring in the collection of London's Imperial War Museum. This ring is a US 6.75 and cannot be resized.
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.