Jewelry design is influenced by many things and world events is one of them. When the stock market crashed in 1929 during the Art Deco period, some jewelry designers got very clever so they could respond to the luxury budget-conscious market. Yes, there is such a thing.
Convertible jewelry was the answer that allowed a woman to purchase one piece of high-end jewelry that could be worn in different ways on different days or nights.
While convertible jewelry was at its high-point during the Art Deco period of the 1920s, it was still alive and kicking during the WWII years of the Retro period, where resources of precious metals and gemstones were in short supply.
Art Deco style celebrated both the machine age and the opulence of the 1920s. The lines were strong and the colors were bold. Popular gemstones used in Art Deco jewelry were diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, quartz, onyx, coral, and jade. Design elements were taken from ancient times as well as the day’s groundbreaking technology and industries. Jewelers were simultaneously taking from the past and looking to the future in their designs.
Convertible jewelry has both high-design and high-functionality. The jeweler that created convertible pieces of jewelry in the 1920s had to be a master craftsmen.
Even though it’s been almost 100 years since the hey-day of Art Deco and convertible jewelry, it’s still a great idea. Convertible jewelry can create the magic of turning a 4.0 carat fancy yellow diamond ring into a necklace by allowing the center stone to pop out of the setting to be used in the necklace. Very popular convertible jewelry of the 1920s and 1930s were necklaces that could also be worn as bracelets, brooches, pendants, and earrings.
Probably the most famous piece of convertible jewelry of the last hundred years was a piece designed for an American socialite involved in one of the most famous love stories of the last century.
The American socialite fell for a prince who then became a King that then gave up the throne for her because, well, she was twice divorced and he couldn’t live without her. In his 1936 abdication, he told his people that he could not be king without “the help and support of the woman I love.” They ended up living happily ever after as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The throne then went to the current Queen of England’s daddy, and well, then to her.
Now, even though the American socialite turned Duchess didn’t have access to the crown jewels, she did alright in the jewelry department. Like the iconic convertible zip necklace designed by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s. It took more than ten years to create the ruby and diamond necklace that converted into a bracelet. Creating a zipper out of precious metal took the majority of the time to get right. The piece literally zipped into a bracelet and unzipped into a necklace. It was and is still a very unique design.
Today there are still so many creative ways to design a piece of convertible jewelry. A long necklace can turn into five pieces of jewelry such as a choker, bracelet, anklet, and pair of earrings. A multi-strand pearl necklace can become a choker, bracelet, and ring. Art Deco geometric earrings can be converted into a brooch by fitting them together. Pendants can morph into a brooch, choker, and a bracelet. The options are only as endless as your imagination.
If convertible jewelry sounds like it might be right up your alley, give us a call at 619.223.2151 or stop by to let us help you start exploring the possibilities of your own unique piece of convertible jewelry.