How Downton Abbey Inspired An Art Deco Jewellery Revival
When the cult period drama returned to the big screen with Downton Abbey: A New Era, its treasure trove of diamonds and pearls also reignited the allure of Art Deco designs.
Those who devoured all six seasons and the two movies of Downton Abbey (that music, those costumes, the scenery – sublime) will know how jewellery played a subtle yet crucial role throughout. Not only was every character artfully bedecked, but even the extras were expertly adorned, with jewellery effortlessly illustrating various personalities and societal standings.
As the icing on the proverbial cake, with so many different elements of costume, the jewellery is what pulled everything together. From Lady Mary’s long, single strand diamond necklace that skimmed her waist, to Lady Edith’s dangling pearl earrings perfectly complemented by her short, soft bob, each item told a story, of which there were many. In fact, over 500 pieces of jewellery were sourced for the most recent cinematic offering, which was set in the late 1920s.
Now, nearly 100 years later, these pieces are once again in style. In fact, jewellery inspired by heritage designs is more popular than ever, and that’s because during periods of disruptive change, like a pandemic or war, jewellery can serve as a talisman of the past. People are investing in pieces that they know they will keep forever and then pass down as heirlooms. Fast fashion and mass-produced items are being skipped in favour of unique pieces of wearable history that will last a lifetime. It would seem the need for our jewellery to spark joy is stronger than ever.
Enter all things Art Deco: a symbol of the exuberance and celebration that was the roaring 20s. Made between 1920 and 1935, jewellery designers aimed to differentiate their work from Art Nouveau jewellery (1890-1915), with its fluid lines and natural influences, by focusing on the dramatic lines and geometric designs represented in the architectural trends of the 1920s. These included sweeping curves, sunburst motifs, and unvaried repetition, all commonly found in buildings and fine art of that era.
The jewellery itself was decadent, romantic and decorative, with oversized pearls, ornate gem brooches, beaded necklaces and filigree rings. So how did one wear such beautiful pieces? Sleeves were out and skin was in during the 1920s and ’30s. Bracelets and bangles were layered up the arm, while simple layered strands of pearls hung delicately from the neck. Interestingly, long, dangling earrings were sometimes designed to double as brooches, and were even flirtatious forms of communication. Some experts believe a naked hand tickling the neck or tapping an earring was considered a not-so-subtle expression of interest.
Whichever way it was worn, or for whatever reason, there’s no doubt that the bold, geometric, diamond-dusted aesthetic of Art Deco will be forever in vogue. Here are some incredible pieces to wear now and love for all time.
L-R; Pear-Cut Diamond Trilogy Band in White Gold, Grace Band in Rose Gold and Diamond Bow Ring in White Gold.
L-R; Fine Emerald Art Deco Bangle in Yellow Gold and Bouquet Diamond Bangle in Yellow Gold
L-R; Oval Couture Ring In White Gold, Fine Diamond Statement Band in White Gold and Double Oblique Ring in White Gold.
L-R; Fine Art Deco Diamond Cuff in White Gold and Diamond Cluster Fine Cuff in White Gold.
Diamond and Pearl Amulet Ring, Deep Sea Treasure Diamond and Pearl Earrings and Paradise Pearl and Diamond Ring.
Bespoke Diamond Bracelet – POA.
L-R; Josephine Studs in White Gold and Baguette Cluster Diamond Ear Studs in White Gold.