The Art Deco movement swept from France around the world in the 1910s, '20s, '30s, and '40s. Even in post-World War II jewellery, the movement was still seen in many of the new objects that were created. It has continued in a lesser form until now. Most of the surviving original art deco is displayed in buildings across the globe with strong geometric shapes and vibrant colours. Still, there are antique pieces of jewellery that survived from this time period as well.
If you are a seasoned collector, or just starting out, there are a few things that are good to know about buying antique art deco jewellery pieces on the auction website, eBay. There are many reproductions of art deco pieces and knowing which is a true antique piece and a piece that has been manufactured recently, can ease purchasing mistakes. The ways to tell which is antique, which is vintage, which is retro, and which is new, are very important. Consumers should understand the several ways to identify the different pieces as vintage, retro, or antique; be familiar with the overall style of the jewellery; and know how to use eBay as a tool to help you identify the different styles and how to purchase them.
What Is Art Deco Jewellery?
The first step in defining anything as antique is to understand for what you are looking. There are several ways to identify art deco jewellery. Many of these ways are by the look of the piece. Most of the art deco pieces of jewellery have the same geometric designs as other pieces of art and architecture of this time period. Before the stock market crash, people lived in excess. Themes of speed, agility, and grace were in fashion. Very rarely did the wearers of art deco jewellery not take the time to flaunt what they had in the most ostentatious ways. These pieces are colourful and bright examples of the time period in which they were made. Many people collect these original art deco jewellery pieces for their history and beauty. Many people, both young and old, still love this classic style.
If you look at the time period in which this movement was created, people were coming out of the depths of World War I, and viewed almost everything as a way to show off, which is reflected in the jewellery of this time period. Many of these jewellery pieces were of greyhounds, rockets, automobiles, and basically anything that represented speed or agility. All of the art deco pieces contain clean lines, sharp and interesting contrasts, and a wide variety of protrusions and shapes that serve no particular purpose other than to draw the eye. Some say that art deco was a challenge or a reaction to Art Nouveau.
Part of the American Art Deco movement that is extremely interesting is the desire to flaunt prohibition. This was the movement to ban alcohol in the 1920s. With the invention of the Speakeasy, many new clubs, and therefore, new places to wear art deco jewellery became extremely popular. The underground clubs were perfect for showing off the latest jewellery pieces.
Even though the Art Deco movement was slowed during the Second World War, it did not stop completely. Architecture, art, clothing, and jewellery simply changed a bit. Pewter and less expensive alloys were used to design backings, and even the pieces themselves. Jewellers began to make pieces from bakelite, paste glass, lucite, synthetic gemstones, synthetic and freshwater pearls, and other less expensive alternatives to the gemstones. These alternatives did not interfere with the metals and other materials needed for military applications.
If you want to just wander through the different styles of art deco jewellery that exist today, a good place to do this is on eBay. The auction website allows you to browse through many different pieces to get an idea of what is out there, how much it costs, and the time period from which it came. It also gives people a good idea of how to spot a reproduction.
Antique, Vintage, or Retro?
Since each of these terms tends to mean different things to different people, it is good to know the standard definition of each, or at least the standard definition as it pertains to jewellery. Since these labels pertain to the price of a piece, being able to identify which is which helps you to avoid scams.
The oldest jewellery
Over 100 years in age
Term may be used interchangeably with "vintage"
More noble metals used
Sometimes contains real gems
Focused on beauty, rather than price
Pre-World War II
Popular in the 1910s to 1920s
No truly noticeable difference between antique and vintage unless trained to see it
Not called art deco, but style moderne
Many dealers choose to call younger pieces by a different name
Like antique, is often used incorrectly
Relates more to wines and other foodstuffs
Used for objects that are between 25 and 100 years old
Is sometimes used interchangeably with "antique"
Less likely to be made from noble metals
Backings made from pewter, lead, pot metal, and many other less expensive metals
Not noticeably different from antique at first glance
More likely to have fake or synthetic stones
Retro really is not a time period
Revival of a specific style
Reproductions of a style
Assembly-line made or mass-produced
Most likely to have plastic, alloy, or other backings
Synthetic or glass stones
May not follow the movement exactly
Easier to tell the difference between the three styles
None of these pieces of jewellery or time periods are very different from each other. Most are almost exactly the same in appearance but have different qualities. With the exception of retro jewellery, most of the pieces are highly collectable. Retro jewellery is usually a great fashion accessory, but if you want valuable pieces in your collection, it is best to compare each style side-by-side. This can be done while browsing through the selections on eBay. The auction website, eBay, can give you a better idea of what the different price ranges are as well as help to identify the style of art deco jewellery.
How to Use eBay to Identify and Choose Antique Art Deco Pieces
After reaching a basic understanding of each classification of art deco jewellery, many people use eBay to help them identify the age and value of a piece. To do this, simply go to the eBay website, type the search terms or keywords into the box, and click search. If "art deco jewellery" is entered by itself, all of the art deco pieces available on eBay at that time are displayed. Since antique art deco pieces are most desired, the search terms "antique art deco" may yield a better result. Sellers on eBay may also use "vintage" and "antique" interchangeably, which makes asking questions so important. A buyer can also compare the different types of art deco jewellery available.
When you find a listing that you like, click on it. The listing ordinarily contains a description of the piece of jewellery. If there is something missing from the description, a person can easily use the "ask the seller a question" link to ask about the piece. Most sellers are perfectly happy to answer questions. Once you have found the perfect piece for your collection, it is easy to purchase it from eBay.
Buying Art Deco Jewellry on eBay
There are a few things that are good to know when purchasing art deco jewellery anywhere, including eBay. After searching for, and finding, the type of art deco jewellery that you want on eBay, you can take a look at the detailed listing by clicking on it. A description of the item should be there as well as information about the seller; take a close look at both. Shipping and return policies are very important to know, just in case there is a problem with the product. Also, there is a section dedicated to buyers' feedback about a particular seller. Take the time to read the feedback and ask any questions that you may have.
Some sellers have a star rating for each of their products. The star rating gives you an idea of the seller's strong points and weak points. There is also a rating for top sellers. These sellers have consistently good feedback and good ratings. These sellers are considered trustworthy and dependable.
Purchasing antique art deco jewellery can be a rewarding hobby. Many of the pieces are very intricate and contain fine craftsmanship. It is good to know what is considered vintage, antique, retro, and a reproduction. Each of these pieces vary in value and price. If investing in an antique piece, make sure that it has not been repaired poorly and has little to no flaws or excessive wear. Chips, cracks, and other imperfections can significantly lower the value of a piece of art deco jewellery.
Knowing the style of traditional art deco jewellery can help you find the correct pieces for your collection. It can also weed out reproductions and damaged pieces. The eBay website allows you to view pieces and compare them from the comfort of your home. If you are just browsing or plan on purchasing the jewellery, eBay can be very helpful when it comes to making your decision.