How to Buy an Art Deco Brooch

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How to Buy an Art Deco Brooch

A brooch is an ideal way to add a bit of glamour and a unique touch to an outfit. Brooches were dominant items for much of the twentieth century and are available in a range of styles. One of the most compelling types of brooches is the Art Deco brooch, a hallmark of the style era that defined the 1920s and much of the 1930s. These attractive brooches combine geometric forms and a variety of fine metals and gemstones to create standout, one-of-a-kind looks.

Before purchasing an Art Deco brooch, consumers may want to get to know a bit about the Art Deco era and the prominent design themes used in pieces from this time. Understanding what to look for in terms of metals and gemstones can also help consumers pick a piece that epitomises the Art Deco look, while learning where and how to purchase these vintage pieces can facilitate the process. While brick and mortar vendors may have some selection of vintage or reproduced items, aggregator sites like eBay offer a much wider selection of these collectible pieces of jewellery.

What Is Art Deco?

Art Deco was originally a theoretical approach to art developed by artists and thinkers in France during the 1920s. From there, it developed into the dominant design style of the time and eventually defined design elements in everything from household appliances to jewellery. 

Art Deco design in the decorative arts is defined by the use of geometric forms with a focus on what was, at the time, a futuristic aesthetic. As a style era that followed closely upon Edwardian and Art Nouveau styles, Art Deco also incorporated hints of those eras to create an eclectic aesthetic appeal that is still unique to this day.

What Is a Brooch?

A brooch is a small piece of jewellery that is worn clipped to various articles of clothing and accessories.  The first brooches were created during ancient Greek and Roman times and were used as functional items to pin clothing, wraps, and sashes. These devices developed over the centuries into purely decorative items. By the advent of the Art Deco era, brooches were used to evoke the wealth and ostentation of the 1920s. There are a wide range of Tiffany & Co brooches you can purchase on ebay.

Art Deco Brooch Design and Structure

Most brooches created in the Art Deco era are not designed to pierce fabric, but they instead feature a clasp that clamps down on an edge of fabric. Because of that, Art Deco-era brooches were often worn at necklines, on dress straps, and even on hat brims and shoe straps.

The most popular type of brooch made in the Art Deco era was the double brooch. This design was created to mimic two clothes pins. Double brooches can be worn as a single, unified piece, or they can be detached and worn as two separate pieces. As many women in the 1920s began eschewing sleeves as a sign of freedom and rebellion, brooches were often worn on both arm openings of a sleeveless dress to accentuate the new dress design.

Materials Used in Art Deco Brooches

The Art Deco era was a time of wealth with a focus on high-quality metals and gemstones that were used to create glamourous pieces of jewellery. Understanding which metals and gemstones to look for in an iconic piece from the era can help consumers find a classic Art Deco brooch.

Platinum in Art Deco Brooches

Platinum was used extensively in Art Deco brooches for two reasons: its rarity and its neutral colour. Art Deco jewellery design schemes involved high contrast, so using the white-silver tone of platinum provided jewellery manufacturers with the perfect palette on which to set bright stones and other contrasting elements. 

Platinum is also an easy metal to work into complex designs, and this allowed jewellers to easily manufacture the geometric forms that were the hallmark of the Art Deco era. For consumers today, platinum also features the advantage of being a durable metal that does not fade or show damage. Because of that, many antique platinum Art Deco brooches are still in good condition today.

Gemstones Used in Art Deco Brooches

The gemstones used in Art Deco brooches create stark colour contrasts and include everything from precious stones, such as diamonds and sapphires, to more accessible stones and materials, such as onyx and turquoise.

Diamonds and rhinestones are often the most prominent stones in Art Deco brooches, as they create a neutral white base that is then contrasted with coloured stones and materials. Diamonds are also often used as a large central solitaire that is then encircled with ornate channels of diamonds and other stones.  Along with sapphires, consumers can also find ruby accents and emerald accents in Art Deco brooches, although emerald was often replaced at the time with clear green glass. Black onyx was also popular, as black and white design schemes epitomised the stark contrasts that were so coveted in the decorative arts of the time.

Design Themes to Look for in Art Deco Brooches

As an eclectic style era, Art Deco incorporates many different design themes. There are, however, some classic themes that consumers can keep an eye out for when looking for an iconic Art Deco brooch.

Geometric Shapes

Art Deco was characterised by a definitive departure from the naturalistic forms of the Edwardian and Art Nouveau periods and introduced bold geometric forms into jewellery instead. Geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles, dominated the design of Art Deco brooches and gave them a very modern look. The use of chevrons is also a prominent motif in the design of Art Deco brooches. These inverted V shapes can form a crest at the top of a brooch or form a decorative edge on both sides of the piece. 

Scroll Themes

The sweeping lines of the Edwardian and Art Nouveau era were updated in Art Deco pieces by creating longer and more dramatic scrolls that were less feminine and focussed on the pure geometry of the line. These undulating lines are often placed in contrast to straighter forms on a brooch.

Bow Themes

Since the 1920s were a time when many young women began cropping their hair and putting aside the restricting corsets from earlier ages, feminine touches like bows appeared in the decorative arts with a touch of irony. Bow-shaped brooches were worn with the straight flapper dresses of the time as a statement piece and a light-hearted nod to the feminine accessories that had been pushed aside for the new wave of independence.

Naturalistic Themes

When naturalistic themes do appear in Art Deco jewellery, they are quite geometric and outlined through basic shapes instead of organic lines. Floral themes appear on occasion in Art Deco brooches with the flowers used as contrast accents and set with coloured gemstones. The dragonfly, which was a popular motif in the first two decades of the century, also shows up in some pieces, as well as the peacock, who dominated Art Nouveau decorative arts.

Shopping for Art Deco Brooches

Shoppers who want to purchase an Art Deco brooch can consider searching at traditional brick-and-mortar jewellery stores and antique shops for options. Given the rarity of true Art Deco pieces, however, these retailers may offer only a minimal selection of pieces at the most. For a much wider range of options, consumers should consider looking at online aggregators, which bring together multiple vintage sellers and independent vendors to create a much more diverse catalogue of Art Deco brooches.

Buying Art Deco Brooches on eBay

The online auction site eBay is one such aggregator that offers a range of brooches from which consumers can make a selection. The site is designed for ease-of-use and has a search bar on each page of the site. If you already have a particular style of brooch in mind, you can try running a search with a narrow keyword search term. Otherwise, running a search with a general term, such as 'Art Deco brooch&', pulls up the entire catalogue of Art Deco brooches that are available on the site for your perusal.

Evaluating Vendors on eBay

When shopping for a brooch on the site, take a moment to review and evaluate any seller who carries an item that appeals to you. Look through their past auctions to confirm the types of items they carry and read the feedback submitted by other customers. Doing this can help ensure that you get a truly iconic piece from the Art Deco era that you can enjoy for years to come.

Conclusion

Collecting and wearing rare and beautiful jewellery from past ages is a great way for women to create unique looks and dress up even the most everyday ensembles. Perhaps no style era famed for its jewellery is more iconic than the Art Deco era, and perhaps no piece of jewellery from that era is more iconic than the brooch. Buying an Art Deco brooch adds a one-of-a-kind piece to a woman's jewellery collection and makes her a standout in any crowd.

Before purchasing one of these collectible pieces, consumers can prepare themselves by gaining an understanding of what it is that makes an Art Deco brooch special, including its fine materials and its design themes and iconography. With this information in hand, consumers can then search in jewellery and antique shops, or they can leverage the large catalogue of options on eBay to find the perfect piece. By following a few basic steps on the site, individuals who are seeking an Art Deco brooch can quickly and easily find a brooch that embodies this classic era of style.

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