The Order of the Legion of Honor was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. For the last two hundred years it has been awarded to both French and foreign citizens for outstanding military or civil service to France. The honoree receives a medal (with a number of specifics concerning how and where it is worn) depending on their rank, be it Chevalier, Officier, or Commandeur. This interesting Chevalier (Knight) miniature would presumably been worn on the lapel at informal occasions. The petite medal is fashioned in silver with rose cut diamonds in au jour settings and green enameled laurel and oak wreaths. The central disc is rendered in gold with the bust of Marianne and the words "Rebul Francais" on the face, and two crossed French flags with the motto "Honneur et Patrie" on the obverse. The medal is affixed to a black lacquered button with its original ribbon. Sold in original box.
RETRO (1935 - 1945)
World War II marked the shift from Art Deco to retro, as yet another war (and the subsequent materials rations) dictated what was available on the jewelry market. Platinum was reserved for military use, so jewelers began relying heavily on gold and experimenting with colored alloys and different finishes. Retro jewelry designs are marked by asymmetry, motifs borrowed from industrial design, and exaggerated scale.
Thanks to a hugely successful advertising campaign begun in the 1940s and funded by De Beers, the phrase “a diamond is forever” was coined and diamond rings were touted as the ONLY acceptable type of engagement ring. Carefully worded ads instructed men on how to choose a stone, and what to spend (“two months salary!”). The Gemological Institute of America developed the so-called “4Cs” of diamond grading, which was a scientific system for measuring the color, clarity, cut and carat weight of every single diamond.
The costume jewelry industry, having only been established a few decades before, began to flourish. Centered in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding New England towns, companies like Trifari, Monet, Hobe, and Vendome prospered as consumers gobbled up inexpensive machine-made jewels.