Art Deco Opal Jewelry

The film The Great Gatsby is in full flight in many places around the world. Being an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan and a fan of the art deco period in general, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the wonderful jewellery produced in that era. Black Opal from Lightning Ridge was beginning to emerge in the global market, and jewellers  were inspired to embellish the geometric shapes of the art deco era with the sensuous curves of the cabochons and the riot of color exhibited in the fantastical black opal. For me, this era resulted in some of the best examples of coloured stone and opal jewellery ever made.

This brooch is exactly what I’m talking about – look at the intricate detailing and the use of the conch shell – who would have thought conch could look so beautiful side by side opal.

Art Deco Black Opal, Diamond Onyx and Conch Shell Brooch
Art Deco Black Opal, Diamond Onyx and Conch Shell Brooch

Here is a wonderful example of unmatched opal being used together to create earrings. Even though the shapes are not the same, the colours and patterns and the final shape of the earrings tie them all in together. Look at the emeralds, too – I think they sing with the opal. Whilst it is not listed, I would hazard a guess that the same jeweller made the brooch above and these earrings.

Art Deco Black Opal Earrings with Diamonds and Emeralds set in Platinum
Art Deco Black Opal Earrings with Diamonds and Emeralds set in Platinum

A more traditional rendering of Art Deco in this ring. Notice how the rubies, whilst not explicitly similar in colour to anything in the opal, complement and enhance the black opal gem.

Late Art Deco Black Opal Diamond and Ruby Brooch
Late Art Deco Black Opal Diamond and Ruby Ring

This a beautiful example of an Art Deco pendant. Notice how the black onyx really enhances the delicacy of the opal pattern.

Art Deco Pendant with Opal and Diamonds
Art Deco Pendant with Opal and Diamonds

This is my favourite Opal ring of all time (big call, I know). I love the accent emeralds and sapphires, which make the colours in the opal POP. I’ll leave you with this.

Opal Art Deco Ring
Credit – Lang Antiques

The Red Admiral was found around the first World War on the Phone Line field in Lightning Ridge. It was named the Red Admiral after it resembled the British butterfly species the Red Admiral. The opal was set in platinum with diamonds by Sydney Jeweller and opal lover Percy Marks in 1920.

Len Cram, the author of numerous Opal books, describes the stone thus. “If you turn this magnificent gem on its side, it changes from a butterfly to a full-length picture of a Spanish dancer in a traditional broad ruffled dress, perfect in pose and movement, aflame with fiery lights.”

Jennie Lorusso of Percy Marks describes the stone as being approximately 42 carats. It was purchased from her in 2004 by an overseas couple. “She saw the pendant and loved it and was intending to wear it,” said Jennie. I think that is fitting. Something as precious as this deserves to be loved and worn – rather than locked away on display or in a safe.

Red Admiral Art Deco Pendant. Black Opal and Diamonds set in Platinum. Made by Percy Marks
Red Admiral Art Deco Pendant. Black Opal and Diamonds set in Platinum. Made by Percy Marks

I could go on and on, but if you would like to see more – head on over to our Pinterest Art Deco Opal board for more great examples.

And if you want to create your own Art Deco-inspired masterpiece, head on over to our store and browse some of the great opal we have on offer.

5 thoughts on “Art Deco Opal Jewelry”

  1. Hi justin, Although it is very beautiful, and as you would say “It pops”, I find that when i turn the Red Admiral resembles a BIG Australian outback bug, and I want to smash it, Just step on the critter, and be rid of it. But as a Black Opal, I find that all of them are magnificent specimens of what all Lapidary should strive to achieve while cutting any “High Value” or any Black Opal.

    Thank you for sharing the pictures. It shows just what you can accomplish with a bit of talent and some imagination, and some Very Expensive Black Opals.

    Sincerely,

    Casey

    Reply
  2. Fantastic & Mystic, The ring with Black Opal, Sapphires and Emeralds.
    Its really a great piece.

    Thanks or sharing good opals which give pleasure to the sight.

    Regards,
    MHT.

    Reply

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