Dating back as far as Ancient Egypt, signet rings of yore featured a family crest or distinctive emblem that was used as a seal on important documents and correspondence. The tradition of these rings continued into the more modern day in Great Britain and were used for their intended purpose (as an authoritative signature) well into the 19th century. This heraldic signet ring is fashioned in 14k gold (tests) with a bloodstone intaglio carved with the Nourse crest: an embowed arm grasping a snake whose slithery body coils loosely around the wrist and elbow.
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.