Pliny the Elder famously wrote of the opal: “Made up of the glories of the most precious gems, to describe it is a matter of inexpressible difficulty: there is in it the gentler fire of the Ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the Amethyst, there is the sea-green of the Emerald, all shining together in an incredible union. Some aim at rivaling in luster the brightest azure…of the painter’s palette, others the flame of burning sulfur, or of a fire quickened by oil.” T
his fantastic Deco ring is fashioned in platinum and 18k yellow gold, the long oval face dazzles with a bright opal cabochon framed by 30 old mine cut diamonds.
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.