As soon as Pantone, the world’s authority on color, named emerald, “a lively, radiant, lush green”, as the Color of the Year, that elegant and luxurious shade started popping up in clothing and accessories in stores and on the red carpet. Emerald and other shades of green will continue to be important trends for the spring season. I can’t think of a better way to bring a wardrobe up to date than to add vintage costume jewelry in the latest hues. Click through for a large selection of emerald pieces from the 1920s through the 1950s on the TruFaux Jewels website.
Gemstones are natural minerals. Emerald is the rich green variety of the species beryl and one of the most precious gemstones. Flawless stones are rare, and most stones contain inclusions, which gemologists call the jardin (garden). Emeralds have been popular since the 19th century BC. In ancient times, stones were typically polished and drilled to be used as beads or engraved. In modern times, the best stones have been step-cut in a rectangular shape (also called emerald cut); lesser quality stones are cabochon cut (a highly polished stone with a smooth and rounded surface), or carved into cameos or intaglios. Historically, most stones came from Cleopatra’s mines in Egypt, and emeralds were her favorite gemstone. Today the finest stones come from Colombia.
Synthetic emeralds have been produced since 1934. These artificial, man-made stones have the same appearance, chemical composition and physical characteristics as natural emeralds. Synthetic emeralds are used in the same manner as natural ones (for example, synthetic emeralds are set in precious metals, as less-expensive alternatives to natural emeralds).
Imitation emeralds are also man-made to imitate the appearance of natural emeralds, but imitation gemstones have different physical characteristics and chemical compositions than their natural or synthetic counterparts. Imitation emeralds – known as rhinestones, strass and paste – are what we see in costume jewelry. They have been produced from glass for centuries. During the 1920s through the 1950s, Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic) and Austria were the main sources of imitation emeralds for costume jewelry production.
Emeralds in Art Deco Costume Jewelry
In the 1920s and 1930s, the rich green color of emeralds was well suited to the geometric shapes and dramatic contrasting colors of the Art Deco style. Rectangular or square step-cut emerald rhinestones were often paired with imitation diamonds and/or onyx in necklaces, brooches, bracelets, clips, earrings and finger rings. Square-cut emerald stones channel-set in bangles as well as one-, two- and three-row flexible bracelets, often with contrasting clear stones, were also very popular. Single-row flexible bracelets of this type were called line bracelets, the forerunner of today’s tennis bracelets. Bracelets in these decades were usually worn in numbers. This photo shows two of my sterling silver line bracelets by Otis: on the top, diamanté; on the bottom, emerald. Click on the links to see details about each bracelet.
Molded red, blue and green glass (to imitate rubies, sapphires and emeralds) in shapes of leaves, flowers and fruits – called fruit salads or tutti frutti – were used to imitate the carved gemstones popularized by Van Cleef & Arpels. Here is an example of an Alfred Philippe-designed fruit salad Trifari Clip-Mate (a double clip-brooch that was Trifari’s version of Coro’s Duette). Click through to see more detailed photos of this piece.
More about the Color
The Pantone press release stated: “Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity – no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.” To read the entire Pantone press release and/or to get their Spring 2013 Pantone Fashion Color Report, go to the company’s website: www.pantone.com.
You can also see my Pinterest board for more on emeralds.