Rough Diamonds

Diamonds: A Billion Year Journey

Many people own, wear and love diamonds, but few know the incredible story that brought them from the depths of the earth into their jewellery. They are not only the hardest natural substance on earth, but also one of the oldest. Forming deep in the earth’s mantle over 1 billion years ago, with some of the oldest diamonds dating back over 3.3 billion years, they have a story to tell.

Diamond Formation

Diamonds form in the earth’s mantle, the molten part of the planet deep beneath the crust, about 140 to 190 kilometres beneath the surface. Here, carbon atoms are subjected to extremely high pressure and temperature. The pressures can range from 45,000 to 60,000 times the regular atmospheric pressure at sea-level, with temperatures as high as 1300C. In these extreme conditions, the carbon atoms are forced into a crystalline arrangement, forming diamond. No one is sure where exactly the carbon comes from, but a possible theory is that the carbon may have originated on the surface of the earth in the form of prehistoric plant and animal material, and was subducted into the mantle through plate tectonics. If this theory is correct, the carbon in your diamond may have come from some of the earliest life on earth!

Diamond is the only gemstone made entirely out of one element (not considering inclusions and small amounts of trace impurities). Nature is not always perfect, so often many other minerals or defects will form in the diamond as it grows. These are the inclusions that affect clarity grading. Under heavy magnification, some inclusions can even be identified as other minerals, such as garnet, peridot, zircon and even other diamonds! Other elements may also make their way into the diamonds, causing changes in colour. Nitrogen, for example, causes the yellow colour, while boron causes diamonds to be blue. Eventually the diamonds cool in their host rock, and may wait millions or even billions of years for the right conditions to make their way to the surface.

An Explosive Ride to the Surface

When the right conditions arise, diamonds are brought to the surface during massive volcanic eruptions. These kinds of cataclysmic eruptions are extremely rare. The diamonds hurtle to the surface, carried by streams of magma, rock and gas. During this explosive transport of the stones, they can often be broken or cracked. Many inclusions also form during this stage as the diamonds are battered through crevices in the crust. The diamonds eventually get trapped in these crevices, or they explode onto the surface of the earth along with other rocks and magma. The majority of the best diamonds are trapped within a central core, forming a vertical, triangular area of new rock called a pipe. These pipes often reach the surface, but can extend hundreds or thousands of metres into the earth. The most common type of rock that forms these pipes is called kimberlite, named after the famous town of Kimberley, South Africa, where the first major commercial diamond mine opened.

Finding Diamond Deposits

Nearly all diamonds found today were deposited hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago. These diamonds are either found in the eroded remains of ancient, extinct volcanoes, still in their pipes, or in riverbeds and oceans where the diamonds had already been eroded out of the volcanic rock and deposited elsewhere by the forces of erosion. Diamonds that are deposited in riverbeds, called an alluvial deposit, can either be found in still-flowing rivers, or they can be found in ancient riverbeds that have now dried up.

Depending of the type of deposit, diamonds can be prospected in multiple different ways. In the case of diamonds still in their host rock, geologists will often find known volcanic pipes, and drill core samples. These samples are analyzed to search for microscopic diamonds, as it is extremely rare for larger diamonds to be deposited close to the surface. The core samples are also analyzed to detect other minerals that could indicate the presence of diamonds. A strong presence of garnet and peridot indicates a possible diamond deposit, as these minerals often form in the same environments as diamond. In the case of alluvial deposits where the diamonds are deposited in rivers, these stones were often found by accident by lucky farmers or swimmers, which led to the opening of mines. In more modern times, geologists analyze records of eroded diamond bearing pipes, and determine how it was eroded and where the diamonds could have been transported to.

Diamond Mining

Depending on the type of deposit, the mining process can look vastly different from mine to mine and from region to region. For diamonds still in their primary pipe deposit, this can look like an open pit mine or a subterranean mine. These two types of mining operations are the most common, and are what most people picture when they think of a mine. In either case, the mine blasts and drills directly into the rock. These rocks are then removed, crushed and bathed in acid. Since diamonds are relatively immune to acid, the rock dissolves away and leaves the diamonds behind. These diamonds are then sent to a sorting facility.

In the case of oceanic or alluvial deposits, the diamonds must be sifted and filtered out of the mud and silt. Since diamonds are quite heavy, they will sink. In smaller alluvial mines, diamonds are found very much in the same way that one pans for gold. Once filtered out, the diamonds are sent for sorting and cutting.

In most diamond producing countries, there are strict regulations on mining processes. Mines are monitored on a regular basis by regulatory committees and government agencies to ensure they abide to environmental, safety and human rights standards. Thanks to the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme that mandates a documented chain of custody for loose diamonds, consumers can be assured that their certified diamond is 100% conflict free. In many cases, mines are also required to abide to a reclamation program, wherein the mined area must be naturalized after the mine closes to ensure no long lasting negative effects on the environmental health of the area. Due to these regulations, diamonds are now one of the most ethical of all mined materials, even when compared to other gemstones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Sorting and Cutting

Sorting takes place in a separate facility. Here, under high security, trained staff sort through the rough diamonds. They sort them into categories based on colour, size, shape and relative clarity. These rough diamonds are then packaged up into large collections of various types, and are sold and shipped to a small handful of diamond cutters. These diamond cutters will first examine the rough stone before cutting it. It is the goal of the diamond cutter to maximize the carat weight of the diamond without any significant sacrifices on quality. That being said, a cutter may decide to optimize carat weight at the expense of cut quality, colour or clarity, so long as it maximizes profit on the stone. Depending on the shape and placement of inclusions in the stone, the cutter may decide to cut the stone into multiple smaller diamonds of various shapes or sizes, or into one large stone. Usually the first scenario is the most common.

Thanks to modern technology, a scanning laser computer is now often used in the industry to map the rough diamond. The computer will then automatically determine the best way to cut the stone to maximize profit on the rough material. Even with this advanced technology, a skilled diamond cutter still has the last say on how to cut the stone.

Diamonds are cut and polished, usually by hand, on a device called a lapidary. A similar technique is used to cut and facet all gemstones. First, the rough diamond is cleaved or laser cut to form the basic shape. The diamond is then attached to the end of a rod called a dop. By placing this rod at certain precise angles and rotations, the diamond can be positioned to precise measurements for cutting and polishing. The diamond is ground against a rotating disc, called a lap, which is coated in water and diamond powder. Since only diamond can cut diamond, a diamond powder is used for this process. By rotating and angling the stones to precise measurements, and grinding the stone using finer and finer grits, the stone is eventually cut and polished.

The Final Steps

Once the stone is cut and polished, and it passes a quality control inspection, it is sent to a gemmological lab to be graded. Once graded, it is sold to distributors, who then sell the stone to manufacturers, who then set the diamond into finished jewellery. They then sell this to a retailer, who eventually sells it to you!

It can take billions of years before a diamond is even mined. Then the process from the mine to the finished piece of jewellery can take months or years to complete, and requires a lot of labour and skill. At Kimberfire, we cut out the middlemen and connect you directly with the diamond cutters and distributors. This way we can provide you with a beautiful diamond, and with the exceptional in-person service you would expect from a high end retailer, but at a fraction of the cost when compared to a traditional store.

Image credits: Lucara Diamond Corp., Rio Tinto’s Diavik Foxfire, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Jubilee

Diamond Shapes

Diamond Shapes to Wear and Love

When most people think of diamonds, they immediately picture the round brilliant cut diamond. While this is the most popular shape of diamond available, there are actually many more shapes to choose from. Each of these shapes has their own unique character, and also their own type of sparkle.

Round Brilliant Cut – The Classic

The most popular cut, the round brilliant diamond as it is known today was designed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. Tolkowsky was an engineer from a family of diamond cutters. He calculated the exact ideal proportions, number of facets, and angles of the cut, using the physical and optical properties of diamond. He is recognized as being the first person to accurately design the ideal cut for a diamond to display a maximum balance of sparkle, fire and brilliance. His cutting design is now regarded as the North American standard for round brilliant diamonds.

As the name suggests, round brilliant diamonds are circular and round in shape and display even and symmetrical brilliance across the stone. Since the round brilliant cut is standardized, there is a standard cut grading system used to evaluate the stone, with grades ranging from “excellent” to “poor”. For a beautiful diamond, we always recommend to have a cut grade of “very good” to “excellent”. Anything below this standard, and the diamond loses its sparkle. Since only the round cut is completely standardized, it is the only shape of diamond that will have a cut grading on a GIA report.

The round brilliant cut is ideal for those who are looking for a classic look that will really maximize the sparkle of their stone. This type of cut looks great in all sorts of engagement ring designs, from the classic solitaire, to the modern halo design. For the gentlemen out there looking for an engagement ring, you can never go wrong with a round cut. It is the most popular cut, the most brilliant, and will be the safest choice for your other half if they haven’t told you what they like.

Oval Cut

The oval cut dates back to the 1950’s. It is essentially a round brilliant cut, but stretched out into an oval shape. Like the round brilliant, it also shows great sparkle, fire, and brilliance. Some oval cut diamonds can show what is called a “bowtie” effect, which usually occurs when the diamond is cut too deep or shallow, or if the diamond is too narrow and long. This effect appears as a dull area in the middle of the stone, resembling a bowtie, where there is less reflection of light. With oval cut diamonds, as well as other shapes that commonly have this effect, it is always recommended to examine the stone to ensure it does not have a noticeable bowtie.

The oval cut is a great option for those who like the look of the round cut, but want a diamond with a longer profile. When set in a ring, oval cut diamonds accentuate the length of the finger and look great in many different designs. As an added bonus, an oval cut diamond can also appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight.

Pear Cut

Otherwise referred to as a “teardrop” shape, the pear cut is essentially a modified oval cut where one end has been “pinched” to create a point. Like the oval cut, the pear cut is prone to displaying a bowtie effect as well. Care must also be taken when inspecting the diamond to ensure that the point of the stone is centered and the stone is symmetrical and evenly rounded on both sides.

The pear shape, like the oval, also accentuates the length of a finger when set into a ring. Due to the asymmetrical shape of this cut, it may be more difficult to pair this diamond with other stones in a three stone ring. As such, this cut is best reserved for solitaires and halo rings. They also look great in a pair of drop style earrings, or on a pendant. The teardrop shape of this cut gives the stone a very elegant and graceful look.

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut is rumoured to date back all the way to 17th century France, when King Louis XIV requested to have a cut made to resemble the smile of his favourite mistress, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour. Since then the cut has been perfected to make it even more brilliant. Resembling a pear cut, but with points at each end, the marquise cut is the cut most prone to a bowtie effect. A visual inspection of the diamond can help you ensure you don’t receive a diamond with this effect.

This diamond will have a long, slender appearance, and will be the longest of any diamond cut within a certain carat weight. Often seen in vintage jewellery, the marquise cut is a good choice for someone who is looking for lots of sparkle but also wants a more bold, unique, yet vintage look.

Heart Cut

Probably the most romantic of all the diamond cuts, and the most feminine, this diamond shape is very seldom seen being worn. It takes a certain personality to pull this one off, but it can really make a statement. Similar to the pear cut, but with a cleft and two lobes at the top of the stone, the heart cut is also prone to showing a bowtie effect. Though, this is often not as prominent in the heart cut compared to some of the other fancy cuts. With this cut, it is all about symmetry. It is important to ensure that the cleft is indented enough, but not too far, and that it is properly centered. The two lobes must also be of equal height and width, and must have an even, rounded profile. A heart cut is one of the hardest diamond cuts to accomplish, and requires the skill of a master diamond cutter to produce. As such, it can be one of the most expensive cuts on the market.

While difficult to cut, and selling at a premium for this reason, the heart cut makes the ultimate statement in an engagement ring (or any other gifts for your significant other!). As the saying goes, a diamond is forever… so a heart cut diamond is the ultimate symbol of eternal love.

Princess Cut

The princess cut originated in the early 1980’s in London, England. With a square shape, sharp corners, and straight edges, this diamond shape is definitely striking. Princess cut diamonds are known to show a lot of sparkle. This cut also provides a few extra benefits when compared to other shapes. Due to its cutting style, the princess cut can hide inclusions more easily than some of the other shapes. Another great bonus is that princess cuts are one of the most economical cuts of diamond available as they minimize wastage of the rough diamond during cutting.

The princess cut is ideal for those who want a stone with a distinctly square shape, but still want to maximize the sparkle and brilliance of their diamond. It holds up very well in a solitaire setting, but can also look beautiful in a halo design.

Cushion Cut

The cushion shape is one of the oldest diamond shapes still in use today. Some of the world’s most famous historical diamonds are cut in the cushion shape, but not with the same brilliance that the modern cushion cut has. Thanks again to Marcel Tolkowsky, the cushion cut was modified to have more facets to rival the brilliance of the round cut. Many cushion cuts now on the market will be officially classified as a “modified brilliant cushion cut”. These stones have enough sparkle, fire and brilliance to rival the round brilliant diamond. While the cushion cut is usually more square in shape with rounded edges and corners, they can come in more rectangular shapes as well.

Cushions carry a lot of their weight in their pavilion (the bottom half of the diamond), and so will accentuate any colour in the stone. This is why they make a great choice for fancy coloured diamonds. For this very same reason, you may need to pick a stone with a slightly higher colour grading if you choose this cut for a colourless diamond. The cushion cut is a great choice for those who want the look of a square diamond, but don’t like the sharp edges and corners of the princess cut. Despite its long history, it is a modern cutting style, while still keeping to a more classic semi-rounded shape.

Emerald Cut

The ultimate vintage shape for a diamond. The emerald cut, as the name suggests, was originally created for emeralds in the 1920’s, and was soon adopted for diamonds as well. While this cut was created in the 1920’s and officially called an emerald cut, its basic elements have origins dating back to the older “table cut” from the 1500’s. The emerald cut was immensely popular during the Art Deco period, and has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past number of years. While not as brilliant as some of the other cuts in this list due to their larger and fewer facets, this cut is very popular for those looking for a diamond with a vintage look. Due to the large facets and large table (the largest facet, which is in the center of the diamond), inclusions are more visible in this cut of diamond than in other cuts. This cut is also fairly deep, so it will accentuate any colour in the stone. For these reasons, it is important to select a diamond with higher colour and clarity than what you would normally select in a round brilliant cut stone. This cut of diamond is also well suited for fancy coloured diamonds since the depth of the stone will really capture and show off the colour. When selecting the diamond, ensure that the keel of the stone (the bottom part of the stone resembling the keel of a ship) is straight and aligned properly. Also look for the “hall of mirrors” effect, wherein the bottom facets of the stone should resemble a hall of mirrors, reflecting light back to your eye.

This cut is the most popular choice for those seeking a vintage look. The long, rectangular shape of the diamond also accentuates the length of a finger when worn in a ring. It can look great in a solitaire, but can also be quite stunning in a three stone ring. In a halo design, the emerald cut shows great contrast with the rest of the ring and can create an interesting look.

Asscher Cut

The asscher cut was originally developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, and closely resembles the emerald cut. The primary difference here is that the asscher cut does not have a keel like the emerald cut, and is more square in its shape (while still maintaining the cut-cornered octagonal look). This cut of diamond has all the same characteristics as the emerald cut when it comes to how the stone shows colour and clarity. The asscher cut is a great choice for those who want a vintage look, but prefer a square shape as opposed to the more rectangular shape of the emerald cut.

Radiant Cut

Probably one of the least-known and under-appreciated cuts, the radiant cut is usually seen in fancy coloured diamonds and rarely in colourless diamonds. It was originally invented in the 1970’s, yet many are still not familiar with this cut. The radiant, like the cushion and emerald cuts, also has a heavier pavilion. This means that the stone will show colour more than a round brilliant cut. What makes the radiant cut a great option is that it has the same cut-cornered, semi-octagonal shape as an emerald or asscher cut diamond, but has much more brilliance due to its larger number of facets. Like these cuts as well, the radiant cut can be found in both square and rectangular shapes, while still having the same brilliance.

The radiant cut is a great option for those who are looking for a unique shape, but do not want to compromise on the brilliance of the diamond. It is a versatile cut style that can be utilized in many different ring designs, both in colourless and fancy coloured diamonds.

A Shape for Everyone

There are diamond shapes for all different types of personalities and preferences. From the classic round cut, to the vintage emerald and asscher cuts, to the more unique marquise and heart cuts, there are many different options to choose from. What is your favourite diamond shape? Let us know in the comments!

Four Dream Engagement Rings

The Engagement Ring of Your Dreams

You have fallen in love and finally met your perfect match. You start noticing engagement rings all around you; on the hands of friends and family, on Facebook, on Instagram, engagement rings are everywhere! And you start to imagine your perfect ring. Perhaps you have known for years what style you wanted, or maybe you have just started collecting images but haven’t narrowed it down. Either way most people have an idea of what they love and what they don’t really like when it comes to ring designs. But how do you get those ideas into your partner’s head, so that they will know what to look for when the time is right to propose? We are here to offer some suggestions.

Friends and Family

Let your best friends or siblings know what kind of ring you would like. Give them pictures or at least an idea of what you want. It’s very likely that your partner will look to them for advice on the design, and you want them to have the right information.

Window Shop

Next time you and your love go shopping together, tell them you want to take a look at the diamond rings. Go into a couple of jewellery stores and point out or try on ones that you really like. One of my friends did this, and about a year later she received the very ring she had tried on in the store. Bonus points for your partner for remembering the ring you loved.

Pinterest

If you keep a Pinterest board of engagement rings you love (which let’s be serious, A LOT of us do) then you can mention this to your partner. If you think your partner will never go on your Pinterest page, then you can accidentally leave the page open on the computer so they see it the next time they log on. It might be a little bit sneaky but it will definitely help your partner figure out what kind of rings you are into.

Your Opinion Matters

Another idea is to comment (in private) on rings that your friends have. Let your partner know that you absolutely love Ashley’s rose gold ring with the diamond halo while you really don’t like Melanie’s yellow gold ring with the three diamonds. If your partner is paying attention they will make a mental note of these comments, and hopefully purchase something you will like.

Be Obvious

If you have been with your partner for many years and are certain an engagement is coming your way, you may feel comfortable being straightforward about what you want. Send them an exact image of a ring or a couple of rings that you like. Let them know what metal type and diamond shape or other gemstones you would like for your ring.

Shop Together

There are a lot of couples who chose to pick out or design a custom ring together. Sometimes the couple has gotten engaged without a ring and is looking to make the perfect one. Sometimes the couple decides on the engagement ring, and then the one partner buys it and holds onto it for a surprise proposal. There are no rules these days. You can do whatever feels right for you as a couple.

Surprise! Do you like it?

Now, sometimes the proposal is a complete surprise and you didn’t get a chance to let your partner know what you wanted in a ring. Hopefully the ring is stunning and fabulous and you love everything about it. Maybe it’s not the exact design you would have picked, but you love it because of the thought and love that went into it. If you really don’t like it, you always have the option of telling your partner that it’s not quite what you wanted, and they might be ok with changing the setting or diamond. However, I would say be very gentle if you are going to do this, as I’m sure a lot of thought, time and money went into the ring. In the end the most important thing about the ring is that is it a symbol of your commitment and it should reflect the love you and your partner will share for a lifetime.

Edwardian Jewelry

Edwardian Jewelry: Classic Antique Design

Antique styles are extremely popular when it comes to engagement ring designs and there is a vast selection from all the different eras. Whatever your personal style is you will probably be able to find an antique ring that suits your tastes. One of the more popular time periods for antique rings is that of the Edwardian Era. Jewelry from this period is classic and traditional, as well as very feminine. While the name ‘Edwardian Jewelry’ may not be commonly known, I guarantee you the style is. It has a timeless appeal, which is the reason it remains in high demand today.

The High Society of the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era began in England in 1901 when Queen Victoria died and her son Edward took the thrown. The period ended in 1914 with the start of WWI. In France, the same period is referred to as ‘The Belle Époque’ or the beautiful age. King Edward and his Queen Alexandra were fashion leaders who helped established an international high society throughout Europe. This era is considered a romantic and elegant age, but it was also a time when the class system was rigid, and a huge gap in wealth existed between the high and low classes. Wearing fine jewelry was a necessity for those in high society, and it was worn to show one’s rank and wealth. While today it can be considered vulgar to flaunt extreme wealth, in Edwardian high society it was a requirement.

Design Characteristics and Inspiration

One of the defining features of Edwardian jewelry is the use of platinum. In 1903 the oxyacetylene torch was invented, which reached the high temperatures needed to melt platinum. Because platinum is one of the hardest and most durable metals, very delicate and intricate designs became possible without worry of breakage. Platinum is also excellent for setting diamonds, and the use of diamonds was widespread throughout this period. Another important feature in Edwardian jewelry is the technique of milgraining. This is when a small border of beads is created to surround the gemstones and follow the edges of the design. Miligrain adds a lighter and softer appearance to the metal.

Inspiration for the Edwardian style came from traditional motifs of the past. Neo-classical and Rococo artists of the 18th century, as well as the French courts of Versailles were all influences. The famous jeweler Cartier had his designers wander the streets of Paris looking at 17th and 18th century architecture for inspiration. Pattern books featuring ornamental designs from the past began to circulate widely during this time, and this was also reflected in the jewelry. Popular motifs were garlands, ribbons, wreaths, bows, knots and lace, which were all created with an airy lightness that platinum provided.

The Styles of the Time

Ladies in the early 1900’s wore silk and lace dresses in pastel colours, which matched the elegant platinum and diamond jewelry. Diamond ‘dog collars’ became hugely popular, as did black velvet chokers with a diamond motif in the center. Queen Alexandra would pile many jeweled chokers upon her neck, said to be hiding a scar from her childhood. Soon enough all the royal ladies and those in high society were copying her style. Brooches were typically worn on the dress until about 1910 when changing necklines led to the wearing of necklaces with one or two hanging pendants. Earrings were long with open work design that reflected the flowing gowns. Tiaras were an essential part of the elite lady’s outfit, and platinum allowed for elaborate design without being too heavy on the head. Rings had large center stones surrounded by smaller stones. Multiple stacked rings on the finger were also very trendy. Rings had elongated outlines, pierced work and filigree design. Some rings were so large they covered the finger from knuckle to knuckle. Women often wore their engagement rings on a different hand than their wedding band, as the engagement ring’s size and shape didn’t fit with a band.

End of an Era

This age of elegance abruptly ended in 1914 with the start of WWI in Europe. Platinum was needed for the war effort and jewelry production in Europe came to a halt. No longer could royalty and high society flaunt their wealth so freely when the entire country and continent was under fire. The jewelry industry did recover after the war and by the mid 1920’s the Art Deco style became all the rage. While the Edwardian era lasted for less than 15 years, its light and elegant designs remain in style today. For today’s engagement rings, the white metal and white diamond style is definitely the most popular look. Many elements from antique Edwardian rings are still very common, such as milgraining and small diamonds surrounding a larger one. It just goes to show you that, like most fashions, when it comes to jewelry – what goes around, comes back around.

Image Credit: Berganza

Art Deco Rings

Art Deco Jewelry: Timeless Elegance

Anyone who has any interest in jewelry has probably come across the term Art Deco many times. Whether you are looking at rings on Pinterest, trying on earrings in a store, or shopping online for the perfect necklace, Art Deco keeps popping up. That’s because even though Art Deco is an antique style, it is soaring in popularity these days. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this period in jewelry.

Origins in Paris of 1925

Art Deco style got its name from the 1925 ‘Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs et Industrial Modernes’. This was a World’s Fair in Paris which showcased modern designs in decorative art. This new design style came to be known as Art Deco and was applied to architecture, jewelry, fashion, art and interior design. This new style celebrated modernity and technology and was a direct response to the austerity caused by WWI.

Design Characteristics and Influences

Art Deco design has simple clean lines, uses symmetry and repetition and has a strong focus on geometric shapes. It is also known for its rich colours and unusual materials. The jewelry was often set with calibre cut gemstones, which means the gems were cut precisely to fit into a specific design, usually to enhance the geometric pattern. A big influence on the Deco aesthetic was the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was opened in 1922 and revealed the ancient jewelry and art of Egypt. Designers were also influenced by Indian, African, Oriental and Persian design.

Prominent Jewelers

Jewelry sales were booming in the 1920’s, reflecting the growing consumerism and affluence of people in both Europe and North America. The big name jewelry houses designed in the Deco style, and many of their most famous pieces are from this era. Tiffany, Cartier, Mauboussin, Lalique, Fouquet, Boucheron, Harry Winston and Van Cleef and Arpels are just a few of the houses with stunning Art Deco jewelry in their archives. These jewelers usually signed their work and these signed pieces sell for very high prices at auctions today. It was also during this period that Van Cleef and Arpels invented their famous invisible gem setting technique, in which gem stones are mounted through a system of grooves and rails so that no metal is visible.

Fashion Inspired

The Art Deco jewelry styles directly related to the fashions of the time. WWI had brought major changes to woman’s clothing, as many stopped wearing corsets and the dropped waist look became the trend. Short sleeves, shorter hemlines and short hair all rounded out the look of a fashionable lady. Fashion designers Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel helped bring forward modern fashion, with Poiret disposing of the corset and dressing women in trousers, and Chanel’s sportswear inspired clothing and little black dresses.

Necklaces were worn long to compliment the drop waist dresses. Long ropes of pearls were extremely stylish and have come to be known as the ‘flapper’ style. Another necklace style was the Sautoir, which was a long necklace that suspended a tassel or ornament and was often convertible and could be taken apart to wear as a bracelet, choker or pendant.

Bracelets were a big focal point as the arms were now bare and often multiple ones were stacked up the arm. They were large and often had many rectangular shaped links which would be covered in diamonds, usually the square ‘French cut’ style which complimented the geometric designs.

Earrings were long and dangly to show off the short haircuts and were often set with many diamonds. Most women didn’t have pierced ears and these earrings were usually screw backs.

Dress clips were another popular option, which looked similar to a brooch but instead of a pin it had a clip on the back. Women would wear these on their belts, shoes, purses, hats and lapels.

No stylish lady would go out for the evening without a minaudière, a small case for holding a woman’s belongings, usually bejeweled and covered in lacquer which mimicked the look of enamel. It was always held in the hand, like a modern clutch, and was a great canvas for Deco designs.

The style for engagement rings was usually a diamond surrounded by many smaller diamonds that were often calibre cut. Diamonds in the emerald cut and baguette cut looked great in the simple geometric styles. Rings with large coloured stones cut in cabochon style were a popular style for cocktail rings. For bands it was stylish to have either rubies, diamonds, sapphires or emeralds eternity set around the ring, and these were often stacked on one finger.

A Lasting Influence

If the jewelry described sounds like much of the jewelry which is worn today, that’s because it is. Although the Art Deco style fell out of fashion around the time of WWII, it is now beloved for its clean modern look and the amazing techniques of the jewelers of the time. Original Art Deco pieces are now collectibles and can be very pricey. However, many people choose to have a custom jewelry piece made in the style of Art Deco. This can be a much more reasonably priced option, as well as will ensure you get exactly what you want. If you are looking for a ring, or any other jewelry item in the Art Deco style, please contact us at Kimberfire and we’ll create your perfect piece!

Image Credit: Berganza