One of the greatest inspirations in jewellery, Art Deco was an aesthetic that brought together creatives from every kind of craft and culture. Architects created linear buildings (the greatest example of Art Deco can be seen on the Chrysler Building in New York), designers worked with them to bring this new look to jewellery and fashion, illustrators and painters percolated the artistic elements onto their canvases… No art form has had such a long-lasting and far and wide impact on the world of beauty. Mumbai’s Marine Drive houses the style too.
A quick look into history books:
The movement that got its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925 found its footing in France, where modernist ideas began taking shape shortly before World War I. Jewellers like Jacques Cartier had traveled to India in the 1910s, returning with gems that would be central to the emerging style. Remember the famed Tutti-Frutti? Indian Maharajas had a role to play too — they had commissioned a great many modernistic pieces to the likes of Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels on their voyages to Europe.
Diamonds, clean lines and contrasting elements:
The style that is characterised by its graphic, linear designs, is steeped in the women’s emancipation movement as women found new freedom in ‘20s progressive literature and jazz clubs. Bold, geometric, edgy designs, and the play of opposing elements such as black and white - the impact of Art Deco endures in high jewellery even a hundred years on.
Fast forward to now:
The spirit of the movement lives on in the 21st century, inspiring contemporary jewellers on our home turf. While for Umrao, the form finds function in Great Gatsby-esque earrings, for Estaa it takes a spiritual turn, with Art Deco curves on a Ganesha pendant. These designers are taking the long-standing trend and making it their own. We ask 5 jewellery designers at Le Mill to tell us their take on Art Deco, read on for their unique interpretation of the art form.
“Art Deco pieces are easy to wear and will always be in style,” says fine jewellery advisor Arundhati De-Sheth. “Having grown up in South Mumbai, my daily route to school and all my activities entailed me passing the lovely Art Deco buildings in the heritage district of the city.”
The architecture of Mumbai also plays muse to Estaa’s Pratik Shah who reveals, “Art Deco is a prominent feature in the architecture of Mumbai. These forms are etched into my memories.” Its earrings are a configuration of colours, curves and contours inspired by the movement combined into an abstract Ganesha form. “Wear these earrings to invoke luck,” suggests Shah.
Tallin’s take on the aesthetic is manifested in its ‘Sharp Forms’ collection, where the focus is on geometric pieces in contrasting colours. “We love the flow in this design, from large to small units with repeated geometric patterns. What makes this piece Tallin is the colour and reflection play with pink tourmaline tumbles, onyx cut outs, and emerald carving,” explains Akshat Ghiya, creative head of the Jaipur-based jewellery house.
Inspired by the work of Art Deco masters such as Cartier, Anuj Shah of Umrao enjoys setting rock crystals and onyx in modern techniques. He suggests these Great Gatsby-esque earrings set in 18k gold rock crystal with diamonds surrounded by pearls. “These are perfect to wear with Indian and western outfits.”
“We find our Art Deco inspirations in the geometric, trapezoidal and the triangular shaped buildings and structures of that great era. Its application with baguette shaped diamonds creates a magical visual balance. Any lover of the Deco period would instantly connect with these designs,” says Rajvi Chokshi of Moksh. The octagonal diamond frame, the trapeze shape of the diamonds, as well as the colour combination in these earrings are nods to the style.