Most of us know the discovery of King Tut's tomb and the first worldwide tour of his treasures led to a rage for Egyptian-styled jewelry in the Art Deco era. Fewer are aware there were earlier Egyptian crazes (circa 1800, inspired by Napoleon's campaign in North Africa, and again in Victorian times, prompted by major archaeological discoveries and the opening of the Suez Canal). Further, the tomb's bounty toured museums once more in the 1970s and another revival of the style took place. Because of this, you always have to look very carefully at jewels with an Egyptian motif, to determine when they were made.
These earrings, I've decided, come from the 1930s, late in the Art Deco period. Their color is decidedly early 20th century; this grayed-down pink suited the icy Edwardian palette and was held over, even though richer jewel tones also entered the mix after World War I. Screw-type fasteners also suggest origin before 1940, when clips became dominant after phasing in for a few years. The reason why we have to rule out the 1920s is because the plastic isn't Bakelite or celluoid. Its brilliant finish suggests lucite, which wasn't developed until 1931. By then the Great Depression was on and popular taste favored the cheap and cheerful, leading to the heyday of a genre known as "art plastic" into which the earrings fall. All the intricate Egyptian details -- bird, ankh, crook, flail, feather and so forth -- that are molded here are also hand-painted. Under close inspection, age-appropriate surface wear can be noted both to the black paint and gilding of the metalwork. Thus, although the earrings look rather new at a glance, they really can't be; they just haven't been worn much. Dating circa 1932-1935, they're vintage by the European 100-standard, but already antique by the American 75-year norm.
Size is about 1 inch tall and 3/4 of an inch wide, big enough to make a statement without overwhelming, and of course these fasteners could be easily replaced by posts, if you prefer them. Provenance is a Midwestern estate.
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