I recently joined the Facebook group Vintage Fashion Uncovered, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in fashion, vintage or otherwise. I was stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a photo of this unbelievable Coco Chanel-designed brooch from the early thirties. It made me think it might be fun to explore Chanel’s vintage jewelry designs.
Coco Chanel believed the purpose of jewelry was to decorate an outfit rather than to signify status. This is why she flaunted the accessory practices of her time by wearing lots of jewelry with her day wear, piling on precious and costume jewels together. Then to further scandalize her wealthy clients, Chanel’s evening looks often went entirely unaccessorized.
“It’s disgusting to walk around with millions around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry because it’s provocative”-Coco Chanel
But though she spent the 1920s looking down her nose at displays of wealth and instead creating wonderful, iconic costume jewelry, the next decade would see her creating some of the most glorious, mind-boggling precious jewelry of the time. In 1932, the International Guild of Diamond Merchants approached Chanel to design a collection of diamonds in platinum called Bijoux de Diamants. After designing attainable costume jewelry during the excess of the Roaring Twenties, Chanel found herself creating over-the-top fine jewelry in the throes of the Great Depression. She certainly did love to go against the grain!
I went on a really fun hunt for photos of jewels from the collection, and put them all in a Bijoux de Diamants Pinterest board. Hope you enjoy them! You may also like my Art Deco Fashion and Jewelry Board. And finally, there’s a wonderful article on Coco Chanel’s early jewelry on TrueFacet.com.