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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 73rd Issue: Pearls and Art Deco - A Match Made in Heaven



Pearls of Joy Pearl Quote of the Week: "... the moon that hung over the garden like some great priceless pearl, flawed and blemished with grey shadowy ridges as only a very great beauty can risk being.” - Anita Desai



Eye Candy


Weekly Eye Candy Spotlight: Russian Art Deco Natural Pearl Diamond and Onyx Necklace




This hauntingly elegant natural pearl, diamond and onyx necklace in a study in imperial Russian elegance. Photo courtesy of Romanov Russia Antiques. 

The design of this distinctive Art Deco necklace is centered upon an elongated black onyx drop hanging from a platinum milgrain plaque embellished with diamonds accented by two tapered emeralds. The principal diamond is approximately 0.40 ct.

Estimated total diamond weight is 0.90 ct.

Pearls diameter:  3.9 – 3.6 mm

Length of the onyx drop is 30 mm



New Guest Blog Post from The Culture of Pearls

What is Art Deco?



Art Deco Design and Pearls: A Match Made in Heaven

Clean lines, geometric shapes and unconventional colour palettes, Art Deco jewellery as a style has remained fresh and appealing even a hundred years after it first appeared on the jewellery stage.

The aesthetic of this design movement was sleek and glamourous, typified by style icons like Coco Chanel wearing her classic tweed two-piece suits with ropes upon ropes of pearls. Interestingly, it was during this era that jewellery started becoming more than an outward symbol of wealth and instead became a statement of style.


Art Deco Pearl and Diamond Bracelet Princess Margaret


Image courtesy Noonans Mayfair

Princess Margaret's Art Deco Pearl Bracelet 

This bracelet was worn by Princess Margaret for her official 19th birthday portrait. An interesting detail about this piece was the M (for Mikimoto) that was stamped on its platinum clasp. (Image courtesy Noonans Mayfair). 

Set with cultured Akoya pearls and diamonds, the bracelet came into the secondary market last year and sold for over ten times its initial sale estimate.


Princess Margaret Portrait Pearl Bracelet


The style witnessed its heyday during the 1920s and 1930s. While the earlier Art Deco jewellery pieces were feminine, with an inherent softness to the designs, the later ones were defined by their straight lines and bold modernism.


Van Cleef and Arpel Natural Pearl and Diamond Art Deco Earrings


Image courtesy Sotheby's

Van Cleef & Arpel's Natural Pearl and Diamond Drop Earrings 

Listed on Sotheby's Auctions with provenance as "From a Gentleman", this modern black and white pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings is a lustrous example of Art Deco design from the 1920's. 

With women now wearing their hair short, drop earrings became all the rage. Elongated diamond and platinum settings were often enhanced with drop-shaped pearls as the perfect finishing touch. To a large extent, the luminous iridescence of white pearls, the sheen of platinum and the sparkle of diamonds came to define the very spirit of Art Deco jewels.


Natural Pearl Diamond and Emerald Sautoir by Cartier


Image courtesy Christies


The style found its inspiration from different sources including ancient Egypt as well as the cultural arts of Persia, India, Africa, China and Japan and jazz music. All in all, though, Art Deco jewellery tended to be symmetrical, with its audacious play of colours and textures adding an interesting highlight.

The Pearl, Diamond and Emerald Sautoir pictured above was created by Cartier in 1925. The carved Emeralds are reminiscent of Egyptian and Indian floral motifs, as is the centerpiece featuring a large tear-drop Diamond in the center, which recalls a stylized lily. 


Cartier Triple Strand Pearl and Diamond Art Deco Necklace

Image courtesy Pierre Berge & Associates


Cartier Triple Strand Pearl and Diamond Art Deco Necklace 

Cartier was and is one of the most easily recognizable master jewelers that produced jewelry in the Art Deco style. Replacing the frills, bows and garlands it had popularized during the Belle Epoque period with sharp, geometric angels, exquisite small diamond work and meticulously sourced gemstones and pearls, Cartier's Art Deco designs are some of the most popular of this time period. 

Initially, only natural pearls were set into Art Deco jewels. Many high jewellery houses such as Cartier, Chaumet, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels sourced the finest natural pearls for their luxury pieces. In fact, Cartier set exquisite natural pearls in many of their famous “Cartier Style” jewellery pieces. The Triple Strand Pearl and Diamond Necklace above features Mikimoto cultured Japanese Akoya pearls. 


Mikimoto Art Deco Pearl Jewelry


Image courtesy Mikimoto America

Mikimoto's Match Made in Heaven with Art Deco Design 

With the introduction of Mikimoto’s pearls during the 1920s, cultured Akoya pearls also started being used in Art Deco jewellery. Cultured pearls, unlike their natural counterparts, were cheaper and more readily available. In addition, Mikimoto insisted on selling only high quality cultured Akoya pearls.


Mikimoto Art Deco Pearl Bracelet

Image courtesy Mikimoto America


Round, luminous and white, Mikimoto’s cultured pearls were consistently and identically dazzling. This helped increase their popularity among jewellery makers and buyers alike. As a result, from the late 1920s and through the 1930s, many Art Deco jewellery pieces featured cultured instead of natural pearls.

By the end of the 1930s, the Art Deco jewellery style started giving way to a newer look, the Retro style. Even though the Art Deco style lasted a little over two decades in the first half of the 20th century, its influence can still be felt today. Synonymous with the Roaring Twenties and the decadence of the Flapper Era, Art Deco jewellery continues to fascinate  collectors and buyers alike, all over the world.

Read the entire post from the Culture of Pearls here: 


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White South Sea Pearl Lina Earrings


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