Edwardian Jewelry vs Art Deco Jewelry

Written by: Benjamin Khordipour, Jewelry and Gemology Expert
April 3, 2024 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

What’s the difference between Edwardian and Art Deco Jewelry? Distinguishing between different eras of antique and vintage jewelry can be confusing, especially if you’re a novice. I’ve been in the vintage jewelry space for over a decade, and in this article I break down the differences between Edwardian vs. Art Deco Jewelry.

What is Edwardian Jewelry?

pearl and diamond floral vintage edwardian ring

Edwardian jewelry is classified as jewelry that was created between 1901-1910. The style was named after King Edward VII of England and it showcases the elegance and opulence of the early 20th century (think Titanic aesthetic).

If I were to sum up the overall themes that characterize Edwardian-era jewelry it would be old world luxury, with its more-is-more approach to detail and design. Intricate details and delicate craftsmanship are strong characteristics of the Edwardian style, and jewelry from this era often features precious metals like platinum and high-quality diamonds.

What is Art Deco Jewelry?

12992 art deco era elongated cushion cut vintage diamond engagement ring

Art Deco jewelry emerged during the 1920s and 1930s. In sharp contrast with the style of the preceding era, Art Deco is all about bold, geometric patterns, symmetry, and clean lines.

This style reflects the modernity of the period, taking a more symbolic rather than literal approach to design and shapes. So where the Edwardian style places value on the amount of detail in a given design, an Art Deco piece might feature a scaled-down, simplistic representation. (This contrast between classic and modern interpretations is still prominent today. Think about how brands that have been around for decades will update their logos from very detailed, portrait-like images to simplified icons.)

Edwardian Jewelry vs Art Deco Jewelry

Edwardian diamond jewelry and art deco diamond and sapphire ring

So what’s the difference between the two eras of jewelry? Many experts view Edwardian jewelry as the last gasp of traditional jewelry craftsmanship. With its intricate lace-like patterns and use of platinum and diamonds, the style evokes romanticism using soft, flowing lines and elaborate designs. Art Deco, on the other hand, boldly steps into the modern era with its stark geometric shapes and diverse materials, including less traditional stones and metals. Art Deco designs have a futuristic feel about them that reflect the industrial progress of the era.

FeatureEdwardian JewelryArt Deco Jewelry
EraEarly 20th century1920s – 1930s
DesignDelicate, intricateBold, geometric
MaterialsPlatinum, diamondsVaried, Precious Metals
MotifsFloral, romanticSymmetrical, modern
InspirationTraditional craftsmanshipIndustrial, modern art
Color PaletteSoft, subtleVibrant, contrasting
Cultural InfluenceVictorian sensibilitiesGlobal, futuristic

This table summarizes the core differences and distinct aesthetics and influences that define each of the Edwardian and Art Deco Eras.

The Defining Motifs and Features Of Edwardian Jewelry

gold and diamond vintage edwardian engagement ring side view

Since this era is all about old-world luxury and elegance, jewelry from the Edwardian period evokes the same sense of romance and sophistication that you get from the classical music and embroidered fashions of the time. When you think of Edwardian jewelry, it conjures up the image of a velvet-lined jewelry box on a rich mahogany dresser.

The period’s motifs often include garlands, bows, and lace-like filigree as well as airy openwork in the metal. Another common feature found in Edwardian jewelry is milgrain decoration which are tiny bead-like details added to edges.

Because of the emphasis on detail, early 20th-century artisans preferred using platinum over gold. This was because of platinum’s strength and the ability to create fine wires. This enabled them to create intricate designs without compromising durability. As far as stones, you’ll commonly find diamonds, often accompanied by pearls which are another key element of Edwardian fashion.

The Defining Motifs and Features Of Art Deco Jewelry

art deco old European diamond vintage engagement ring with vertical baguette diamond accents

Art Deco jewelry stands out for its bold, innovative design. This era embraced a more industrial aesthetic, featuring angular, symmetrical patterns and streamlined forms. Additionally, the use of contrasting colors and materials was common, as artisans experimented with less traditional gemstones like onyx, jade, and coral, often set against diamonds to create striking visual effects.

Furthermore, new cutting techniques introduced at the time majorly contributed to the Art Deco style of jewelry. The results were more complex and precise gemstone shapes, like baguettes, emerald cuts, and Asscher. These cuts reflect the sharp angles and symmetry that are common features of the Art Deco aesthetic.

Other unique designs from the era showcase the influence of exotic and ancient cultures, with Egyptian, African, and Far Eastern elements often incorporated. That’s why those who have a more avant-garde and daring style tend to appreciate these pieces because of their distinct and creative approach to design.

To picture the aesthetic of the era, you easily can envision Art Deco pieces worn by celebrities in satin evening gowns and fur stoles, attending film premiers at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Or, perhaps the most recognizable piece of culture that encapsulates the Art Deco style, think of the jewels that would have adorned the lead characters in the Great Gatbsy.

How to Quickly Recognize Edwardian or Art Deco Jewelry

Customer looking at halo diamond engagement ring on finger in showroom
  1. Material: Edwardian jewelry often features platinum, while Art Deco pieces may include a variety of materials.
  2. Design: Look for delicate, flowing designs in Edwardian jewelry versus bold, geometric patterns in Art Deco.
  3. Motifs: Floral and romantic motifs suggest Edwardian, while symmetrical and exotic motifs are typical of Art Deco.
  4. Gemstones: Edwardian pieces usually have diamonds and pearls, while Art Deco often uses contrasting colored stones.
  5. Color Palette: Soft and subtle colors indicate Edwardian style; vibrant and contrasting colors are more common in Art Deco pieces.
  6. Influence: Edwardian jewelry shows Victorian influences, whereas Art Deco reflects modern art and industrial design.
  7. Cut of Stones: Edwardian stones are traditionally cut, while Art Deco features more precise, geometric cuts.

Most Famous Edwardian Artisans

  1. Cartier: Known for their refined elegance, Cartier’s Edwardian pieces often featured garlands and floral motifs, utilizing platinum and diamonds to create delicate, lace-like designs.
  2. Tiffany & Co.: Tiffany excelled in creating intricate and graceful pieces, often incorporating pearls and emphasizing flowing lines and natural themes in their designs.
  3. Boucheron: Famed for their exquisite craftsmanship, Boucheron’s creations in the Edwardian era often included nature-inspired motifs, using fine gemstones and detailed metalwork.
  4. Van Cleef & Arpels: This artisan is celebrated for their innovative use of platinum and meticulous attention to detail, often featuring romantic motifs in their Edwardian pieces.
  5. Fabergé: Fabergé crafted stunning Edwardian jewelry with intricate enameling and a focus on opulent yet delicate designs.

Most Famous Art Deco Artisans

  1. René Lalique: Lalique’s Art Deco pieces often featured bold, contrasting colors, influenced by natural and exotic motifs, using innovative materials and techniques.
  2. Cartier: In the Art Deco period, Cartier embraced bold geometric designs, incorporating vibrant gemstones and exploring themes inspired by Egyptian and Far Eastern art.
  3. Van Cleef & Arpels: Known for their pioneering invisible setting technique, they created Art Deco pieces with seamless arrangements of gemstones and striking, geometric forms.
  4. Raymond Templier: Templier’s designs were characterized by their modernist approach, featuring abstract and architectural forms with a focus on streamlined, industrial aesthetics.
  5. Georges Fouquet: Fouquet’s Art Deco jewelry was known for its artistic flair, combining bold shapes and colorful gemstones in designs that captured the essence of the era.

Art Deco vs Edwardian Engagement Rings

At Estate Diamond Jewelry, we specialize in vintage and antique engagement rings. If you’re trying to decide which era to pursue, here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between Art Deco Engagement Rings and Edwardian Engagement Rings.

Edwardian Motifs in Engagement Rings

14899 vintage edwardian diamond engagement ring on artistic background
Antique, Edwardian Era Diamond Engagement Ring, Circa 1900

Edwardian engagement rings are what we like to recommend for brides looking for romantic and intricate styles. Common features found in Edwardian engagement rings include diamonds as the center stone, which fits in with the classic beauty aesthetic. Additionally, while platinum is very common, you can also find many pieces set in yellow gold.

Other elements like filigree work and milgrain detailing capture the unique charm of the early 20th century style. All these details contribute to an overall aesthetic that evokes grace and elegance, making these rings truly timeless.

I find that brides who prefer more vintage and classically feminine styles tend to favor Edwardian era engagement rings over Art Deco pieces. So if you tend like floral designs, soft lines, and delicate patterns, Edwardian rings will probably appeal to you. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a piece that has heirloom vibes to it, Edwardian rings are a great choice.

Art Deco Motifs in Engagement Rings

14374 Vintage Art Deco Diamond Engagement Ring
Vintage Art Deco Diamond Engagement Ring, Circa 1920

Art Deco engagement rings will appeal to those who like bold and innovative designs. I’ve even found some extra unique pieces from the era that featured colored gemstones in addition to diamonds. Although using it’s less traditional, the colors create a striking contrast and a vibrant look.

Art Deco engagement rings can also feature more geometric cuts of stones than the classic old European cut. For brides who prefer more angular designs, Asscher or emerald cuts showcase the symmetrical lines commonly found in Art Deco designs. Other common elements include French or baguette-cut accent stones, sometimes in contrasting colors like sapphires or emeralds.

I usually find Art Deco engagement rings popular amongst brides who are looking for a vintage piece, but prefer more minimalistic and streamlined designs.

Talk to a Vintage Jewelry Expert

Afshin Negotiating prices on vintage ring at estate diamond jewelry showroom

If you’re looking for a unique vintage piece, whether Edwardian or Art Deco, contact myself or one of our expert jewelers at Estate Diamond Jewelry. We source authentic antique and vintage pieces and carry a vast selection of jewelry from both eras.

Fill out the form below and let us know what you’re looking for.