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Art Deco refers to a style that peaked in the 1920's and 30's and which was a reaction to the flowing lines of the Art Nouveau style which preceded it. The style gets its name from the Expostion International des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes which was held and Paris in 1925 and popularized the style.
Art Deco design is known for it's robust geometry and the influences of Cubism and machine age imagery. When figural imagery is used, it tends to be highly stylized. The style also shows a Western fascination with exoticism during the era, and often incorporated carved gemstones from India, Chinese imagery, and African motifs. There was also a major Egyptian revival during the era that stemmed from the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922. Fine Art Deco jewelry is usually made of platinum or white gold, although there are exceptions.
Early Art Deco jewelry is often similar to some of the Edwardian jewelry that preceded it, but tends to be less delicate and incorporates more colored stones. Late Art Deco jewelry often has some of the sweeping curves of the Retro style that follows it. In the 1960's and 70's there was an Art Deco revival and the style remains popular today, especially in rings, although jewelry not made during the Art Deco era should be referred to as Art Deco style.