After the onset of the Great Depression, the Art Deco style began to go out of fashion, but its influence was still felt in the following decade. Jewelry of the 1930's took on a more American style due to many jewelers in Europe being shut down because of the ongoing war there. 1930s jewelry and accessories became more glamourous and sophisticated in appearance particularly influenced by the movies coming out of Hollywood at this time. Additionally, many of the actresses of the era would also appear in promotionals for the items they wore in one of the movies they appeared in. An additional influence on the style of 1930s jewelry was the war in Europe resulting in quite a few '30s jewelry items with a military theme. This was even seen even more strongly with 1940s jewelry when America got involved overseas. In the 1930s jewelry often emphasized individualism and playfulness.
A distinct change in 1930s jewelry was the mixing of plastic materials with natural ones. One of the most common plastics used was Bakelite which was already being used for many things from electrical insulators to kitchenware. Being both light and inexpensive, aluminum was much more frequently used during this period, but pewter and lead was often more often used than it. Moonstones became quite popular in '30s jewelry, as well as other non-expensive gems, such as amber. Glass jewels frequently stood in place of the more expensive equivalents. Due to the cheaper cost of the imitation gems, 1930s jewelry often feature large bold "gems." Typically, jewelry from this period features much more metal than gems (or their equivalents), often with intricately designed patterns, bold geometric shapes, animal designs, as well as floral patterns. Unlike 1930s jewelry, in the '40s such costume jewelry began incorporating sterling silver.
The idea of costume jewelry introduced in the 1920s continued into the 1930s. Costume jewelry were cheap and disposable accessories that would be bought to enhance and complete a particular outfit. Thus, each dress a woman had would often have its own set of jewelry that would be worn with it. Often times, jewelry of the 1930s would be worn a few times, then sold again with a new set of jewelry being bought for a new outfit, or for the previous outfit which may be worn a few times more before a new one replaced it. This kept each set of outfits looking fresh.
Common themes for the accessories of this period were bows and flowers, as well as sunburst designs and ballerina motifs. Although rhinestones were popular in Europe during the '30s, they would not become popular in America until the 1940s.
If searching for vintage jewelry at shops or flea markets, beware of the many fakes that are sold at these places. Authentic 1930s jewelry that contain plastic are often a pea green or butterscotch color, and they often have a very slight smell of formaldehyde. It is more difficult to identify true 1930s jewelry