The first two decades of the 20th century – the Edwardian or Belle Epoque – were dominated by the use of guilloché patterns on the silver or gold surface upon which transparent colored enamel was applied. This was also true for personal accessories made in the neo-Louis XVI or neo-classical styles of the first decade. Towards the end of the decade and in the second decade opaque enamel was applied all over the item, or straight thin parallel ‘mille raies’ lines, or slightly wider ‘Pekin’ lines inspired from the surface effect of wall textiles.
Among the first objects made for ladies were objects tied to the knitting function: tape measure containers, pin cushion containers, thimbles, and crochet hooks. Parasol handles, some with a watch incorporated, were a popular item. Other items, called novelty items in the UK, include coin purses, belt buckles, sets of buttons, flashlights, magnifying glasses sometimes combined with a watch, whistles…Some of these items, gift items mostly, had a fun nature attached to them.
For men, jewellers made cane handles, penknives, mustache combs, double pocket magnifying glasses, curvimeters, heads or tails coins, travel razors, toothpicks, shaving brushes, flashlights, billfolds (money clips) sometimes combined with a compass or a pencil or a folding photo frame or a watch, pocket corkscrews, utility kits combining a penknife, a watch and a pencil, cuff-links – one model combines a compass and a watch -, key rings, keys,
The Art Deco of the 1920s was richer in decoration. The enamel was applied in repeated geometric patterns called ‘jeux de fond’ some of which were inspired from the orient or from applied arts in the west. Some items were applied with an antique piece from a faraway culture – 19th century Chinese mother of pearl laque burgauté or carved jade, Chinese porcelain, Indian multi-colored plaques etc.
The Art Deco period saw the use of hardstones – rock crystal, rose quartz, aventurine, lapis lazuli, agate, onyx, jade, nephrite, coral, mother of pearl, amber, tortoiseshell – , thus exhibiting a festival of colors underlined by enamel and the use of small precious stones, some even carved in India – sapphires, emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls.
Towards 1935 when gold came back in favour and until the 1960s, the silver or the gold surface of the item or of the mount was worked with a design pattern often reminiscent of past guillochés, with ‘pointe de diamant’ (pyramidal cabochons) design, with ‘godrons’ (slightly bombé parallel lines) or even with a wicker basket design. There was very little utilisation of other decoration.
If you are looking for personal accessories, in the Alain Cartier online catalog, you will also find ladies’ accessories and smoking accessories. If you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact me.