Bonhams reports on demand for 1920s and 1930s styles at auction.

Bonhams has reported increasing interest in jewellery from the 1920s and 1930s, linking it to the influence of period films and TV shows such as Downton Abbey.

According to Bonhams, the stars of the such shows are becoming vintage style icons, with auction customers seeking to emulate the jewellery styles worn in such shows.


The auction house claims to handle and sell more Art Deco pieces than any other auction house in the world. It said Downton’s global success had opened up new markets – especially in the Far East and Asia where rare vintage jewellery has soared in value.

As a result, investors and collectors alike are increasingly seeking out original art deco jewellery by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Chaumet and Bulgari among others and a number of record sales have been made.

Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “The Downton series has highlighted the Art Deco style and jewellery is one element that viewers can see on screen and then incorporate into their own look.

“This is obviously more difficult to do with the fashions. But the result is a definite increase in interest in all things art deco in relation to jewellery. When it comes to Downton Abbey, Lady Mary and Lady Edith are the obvious on-screen style advocates."

The TV shows are said to showcase how pieces from the era were worn, for example Sautoir necklaces, clip brooches and hair ornaments.

“These are pieces that come to life on screen, which allows potential buyers of similar work to see how they might be incorporated into an outfit today,” Ghika added.

The 1920s and ’30s were considered the era of so-called ‘white jewellery’ – diamond-set pieces – while pearls were also popular in this era given their rarity and the fact that they could be worn with multiple outfits.

Ghika added: “In general, the simplicity in the designs of the Art Deco movement has an enduring appeal and has certainly stood the test of time. The consistent rise in prices over the past 10 to 20 years has led many collectors to seek them out not only as a wearable item but also as a long term investment.”

Interest in Art Deco jewellery has also led to jewellers creating contemporary pieces that are period-themed. Tiffany is going back into its Thirties archive for period jewellery inspiration for its 2014 collection, also said to have been influenced by Baz Luhrmann’s take on the The Great Gatsby.

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