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Art Deco Popular Stones and Materials

Amber, emerald, ruby, marcasite, ivory and bakelite were the most popular materials of the Art Deco Period. Amber is fossilized tree resin.  The trees grew along the shores of the Baltic Sea and during the Glacier Age, it caused these trees to be swept into the sea.  It solidified under ice and pressure.  Amber sometimes surrounds a dew drop and often has insects, petals of flowers, seeds or bark inside.  Amber is very lightweight and is considered one of the oldest gems known to man.  Amber was used for more than jewelry.  It was often melted and mixed with honey to make a medication for throat infections. Although emeralds were popular since the time of Cleopatra, they were widely used during the Art Deco Period.  This rich green stone, rectangular and square in shape were perfectly suited to the lines of the 1920’s - 1930’s.  All genuine emeralds have inclusions and the larger emeralds of medium light to medium dark green can be more expensive than white diamonds. In the 1920’s - 1930’s, rubies both natural and synthetic were often used in jewelry.  This stone is transparent red or has a purplish red hue.  A lighter red stone is called a pink sapphire.  If a ruby has a blue cast in a red stone, it is called a Burmese ruby and this Pigeon Blood Red is considered the most desirable color. Marcasite was used in the 1920’s – 1930’s and added glitter to earrings, necklaces, bracelets, clips and buckles.  This sparkle is metallic and comes from light hitting the facets. In the 1920’s, African ivory carvings created great interest.  Ivory is the tusk of an elephant but could also be the tusks of hippopotamus or walrus.  One needs to take care with any ivory jewelry.  If subjected to extreme changes in temperature, it could cause cracking and splitting.  Over time, ivory turns yellow and it adds to its value. Bakelite jewelry was popular from the 1920’s – 1940’s. This man-made plastic was invented in 1909 by Leo Hendrick Backeland and was not inexpensive.  Because of the war, bakelite was more widely used than other metals for jewelry.

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