In 1925 an exhibition was held in Paris, the capital of France. The exhibition had been planned for some years earlier, however the outbreak of the First World War had delayed it for some time. Known as the ‘Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes’, the exhibition featured items of jewellery alongside sculpture, glass, ceramics, silver and furniture. Many people came to see the exhibition, in fact they turned up in their millions, and the exhibition gave its name to a new design movement, now known as Art Deco.
Combining several different design movements including modernism, cubism, constructivism and futurism, Art Deco was known for its minimalist approach and emphasis on geometric shapes. It was now acceptable to use expensive precious gemstones in jewellery, a practice previously avoided by the Arts and Crafts jewellery designers. Once again, jewellers could use high quality diamonds, sapphires and rubies, although they also used cheaper materials such as coral, rock crystal, chrysoprase, onyx and turquoise. Rock crystal became a favourite with jewellers as it was easy to cut into geometric shapes and was both cheap and plentiful in addition to being very attractive. Art Deco jewellery often made use of block patterns created from gemstones of colours which contrasted with each other. These gemstones would also be cut to form triangles, squares and rectangles. Art Deco engagement rings were frequently set with large diamonds or large clusters of diamonds, baguette-cut diamonds being particularly popular during this time. The rings which were set with larger stones or large numbers of stones tended to be quite heavy, and to prevent the ring rotating on the finger, comparatively wide ring bands were required.
Antique engagement rings made during the Art Deco period are not difficult to find, however the use of high-quality precious stones and precious metals in these rings means that they can often be expensive.