The spring 2013 runways showcased black and white fashions in graphic patterns such as checks, stripes, and color-blocking along with black, white, and black-and-white accessories. Whether you like the 1960s Mod look or something more classic, wear vintage costume jewelry to refresh last year’s wardrobe with this season’s trend. You can see a variety of black, white, and black-and-white pieces from the 1920s through the 1950s on the TruFaux Jewels website. Take a look at my Pinterest board to see vintage costume jewelry, contemporary and vintage clothing, and more with this black-and-white theme.
Black & White in Art Deco Jewelry
The all-white and lacy look of jewelry in the garland style, which was popular in the Edwardian era, was replaced in the 1920s by geometric forms, abstract patterns, and dramatic contrasting colors that characterized the Art Deco style. Black and white was a particularly popular combination during the 1920s and 1930s, and a diversity of materials was used in costume jewelry manufacture. Black and white pieces that were designed to imitate gem-set fine jewelry substituted black and clear glass (pastes or rhinestones) for real gemstones and pot metal (tin alloyed with lead), silver, nickel or chrome for platinum. Black lacquer, black enamel and marcasites (faceted pyrite) were also used to replace onyx. This example of an Art Deco black-and-white bar brooch was made by Fishel, Nessler, an American costume jewelry manufacturer in New York City from 1885 to the 1930s. The faux gemstones are set in sterling silver. You can see a full description and detailed photos of this piece here on the TruFaux Jewels website.
Not all Art Deco costume jewelry was made to imitate precious jewelry. According to Christie Romero (in Warman’s Jewelry, p. 145), the discovery of various types of plastics in the early 1900s provided a “lightweight, inexpensive, and colorful” material that could be used to create novelty jewelry. These fun pieces – which were often “whimsical and flamboyant” – suited the “reckless, lighthearted attitude of the flapper”. Bakelite, the trade name given to a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin patented by Leo H. Baekeland in 1909, is one type of plastic that was used to create colorful as well as black-and-white costume jewelry. Bakelite bracelets, brooches, clips, buckles, necklaces, and earrings could be laminated with contrasting polka dots or other geometric shapes, set with rhinestones, carved on a lathe, and made into the shapes of figures. This large carved black Bakelite brooch set with square-cut and round clear rhinestones is a fabulous example of black-and-white plastic jewelry. Detailed photos and a complete description of this piece are here.
Black & White in 1950s Jewelry
Although color was a significant element in Post-war jewelry, in terms of innovative combinations and multiple shades of one color in the same piece, black-and-white costume jewelry was as classic then as that decade’s black-and-white fashions. Rhinestone pieces followed the popular trend of fancy cuts in diamonds (e.g., marquise and pear). Added shimmer was made possible by the invention of aurora borealis (an iridescent coating for rhinestones and faceted glass beads) by Swarovski in collaboration with Christian Dior in 1955.
The aurora borealis marquise-cut rhinestones in this black-and-white brooch by Elsa Schiaparelli reflect colors that change with light and the wearer’s movement. You can see a full description and detailed photos of this piece here.
For More Black & White Fashions
Visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see black and white clothing, jewelry, and accessories.