Viennese modernism

Expressive Art Deco ring with diamonds, Vienna circa 1940

Two historic old-cut diamonds shine starry bright in their white light. Gleaming gold surrounds the diamonds, which total 0.34 ct, in angular and voluminously curved shapes. The sawn under-cadence features airy spiral sweeps that add a playful touch to an otherwise austere design. It is a play of contrasts that enlivens the ring, yet they resolve into a harmonious whole. The delight in geometry that informs the ring's design harks back to the turbulent era of late Art Deco. Since the beginning of the 1920s, designers throughout Europe had repeatedly ventured to play with clear geometries in order to overcome the loveliness of Art Nouveau. While the first designs were mostly filigree and white, coolly gleaming in platinum and diamonds, the fashion changed from around 1930 towards yellow-gold, more expansive works. In English-speaking countries, a more precise distinction is made here between Art Deco (the ethereal, white jewellery of the first phase) and so-called Retro Jewellery, i.e. the sculptural designs of the period from 1930 onwards. The ring in question here was made in Vienna, as evidenced by its stamping inside the ring rail. Its design and workmanship show that it was forged in the years around 1940. However, the cut of the diamonds reveals that they were formed as early as the 19th century and found a secondary use in this ring. As a rather rare testimony to the reception of late Art Deco even in Vienna, it came to us here in Berlin in search of a new wearer.

The 1920s brought a new style to the world of jewellery with Art Deco: geometric abstractions, noble materials and luxurious fittings were sought after and supplied by goldsmiths in Paris, London and Vienna as well as by their colleagues in Berlin and overseas. The longer and wider the style spread, the more developed the forms became. In France and the USA, for example, a special form of late Art Deco called "retro" jewellery emerged in the years after 1930: The forms became stronger, more physical, the volumes larger and the jewellery once again more splendid, whereby the colourfulness of the stones and metal used played a major role. But not only the shapes changed, also the colours of the jewellery changed after some time: the fashion of the years from 1940 onwards, for example, preferred jewellery made of yellow or red gold to those made of platinum or white gold and coloured stones replaced diamonds in their popularity. The surfaces of the gold were fanned out geometrically and the jewels were conceived almost like cubist architectures.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

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OUR PROMISE

We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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