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Elegance Unveiled: The Tale of an Art Deco Sautoir Necklace with Antique French Cut Steel Beads

French cut steel bead necklace on mannequin.

Nestled in my studio, a timeless treasure awaited rediscovery—a bead necklace with a history that spoke of dance parties in the roaring 1920s. Join me as we unravel the story behind this vintage gem that has withstood the test of time.


A Dance Through Decades: Imagining a flapper adorned in a lovely dress, I envisioned this necklace's vibrant past. Entrusting it to my jeweler Karen, the revelation that it was an antique French cut steel sautoir necklace became the starting point of our exploration. Thanks to Karen's expertise, the journey into the world of sautoirs began.


Sautoir Unveiled: A delve into the definition of "sautoir necklace" led me to Lang Antiques, a trove of information - see their full explanation here. Originating in response to the elongated feminine silhouette of the early 20th century, sautoirs boasted versatility. From woven pearl ropes to geometric diamond designs, they transformed into bracelets, head ornaments, and more, reflecting the economical and efficient spirit of the 1920s and 30s.


French Cut Steel Beads: The necklace's charm lies in its antique French cut steel beads, a unique element with a rich history - Lang Antiques full story here. Originating in Elizabethan England, cut-steel jewelry gained prominence during Louis XV's era in France. Initially functional, it evolved into stylish adornments, democratizing access to fashionable accessories. The collaboration of industrialist Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwood further elevated cut-steel's appeal, creating unique pieces that rivalled gold in value.


The Evolution and Decline: As we journey through time, cut-steel jewelry witnessed a decline in the late 19th century due to mass manufacturing, diminishing quality, and the corrosion factor of steel - as you can see, ours is a little rusty in places. However, this unique necklace stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of art deco jewelry.



A Timeless Beauty: For those enamoured with unique art deco pieces, this sautoir necklace is a true gem. Whether paired with a modern little black dress or a flowing linen blouse, its elegance transcends eras, embodying the spirit of an ageless dance through fashion history. The only problem is, that I think I will be keeping this one...



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