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What You Need To Know About Art Nouveau Jewelry
During our jewelry-education adventure, we have discussed about different eras and styles of jewelry that have made our craftsmanship as diverse and bountiful as it is. The process of making a jewelry adornment is a way of expressing art through skills, passion and influences. That is right, influences; that moving force that has been there forever and has made waves of jewelry trends. Today, we are going to talk about a quite specific one – the Art Nouveau. You will have the opportunity to learn everything about Art Nouveau jewelry, including important facts, history and value. Stay tuned.
WHAT IS ART NOUVEAU?
Art Nouveau is a type of art that has been developed in the late 19th century. According to the records, the booming years of Art Nouveau were from 1890 to 1910. It is a nature-inspired style of art that puts a special accent on plants and flowers and their structures. Art Nouveau was first and primarily applied to architecture and then to jewelry. However, in a short period of time it became a lifestyle that reflected the lives of late 19th-century people. It could be seen on clothes, paintings, furniture, interior designs, glass art, ceramics and metal work. In other words, everywhere. After 1910, Art Nouveau started being considered out of fashion. It was replaced by another newly developed decorative style, Art Deco.
It all started with the simple idea that “art should be a way of a way of life”. The 19th century Industrial Revolution built so many factories and concrete objects that people started feeling kind of sufficated in all that unliveliness around them. So, they thought that bringing nature into their way of living will do a change and so it did. The brutal aspect of industrialism was opposed with the appreciation of natural elements, especially their fine curves that were automatically associated with beauty and sophistication.
So, we could freely say that Art Nouveau jewelry appeared as a way of protest against the 19th century Industrial Revolution. The first forms of this jewelry style were handmade pieces with tender, intricate and romantic features. The most popular precious stone at the time was the pearl, so most of the authentic Art Nouveau jewels were embellished with pearls, where a special empahsise was put on their soft, pastel color and delicate curves. These were indeed beautiful, meticulously crafted jewelry creations that made jewelers feel more like artists, rather than artisans. Besides the pearl, other strongly preffered gemstones for Art Nouveau jewelry were opal, moonstone, agate, chalcedony and chrysoprase. Believe it or not, but even diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds were not as much desired as these gems.
The Art Nouveau era is also popular for developing a new style of jewelry craftsmanship, called “Plique-à-jour”. It is a vitreous enamelling technique where two metals form a hole that is later filled with enamel. The intricate solid filling that is created resembles to stained glass. Thanks to this genuine technique, some of the most awe-inspiring Art Nouveau jewelry pieces were sculpted and left to the world to admire and cherish them for centuries later.
Plique-à-jour Brooch & Pendant in 18K Gold
Saved from Jewels du Jour
RENÉ LALIQUE, THE INFLUENCER
It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the entire “Art Nouveau” thing has something to do with the country of cheese and wine, France. The name itself is a French one, meaning “new art”. So, the Art Nouveau style was first introduced on French soil by one of the most renowned artist jewelers of that era, René Lalique. His early work was usually described as conventional and naturalistic, but when he started adding more fantasy and creativity to it, Lalique finally got the attention of the public. Most of his work consisted of butterflies, insects and female-themed pieces that in 1895 made him the rescuer of the original French design. Soon after, many big jewelry houses all around the world started imitating Lalique’s work , which contributed in giving the Art Nouveau jewelry global popularity and success.
ALL EYES ON NATURE
The notion of nature includes a wide spectrum of elements that were used as Art Nouveau motifs. Hence, femininity was expressed through the curves of butterflies, cicadas, dragonflies and spiders, which were worn for seductive purposes, while snake designs were primarily associated with sexuality, eternity and life itself.
Other common motifs in Art Deco jewelry were exotic flowers, such as orchids, lilies, dandelions, poppies, sunflowers and chrysanthemums. When in a full blossom, they represented life in all stages.
An important fact to mention is that Art Nouveau is the first jewelry style that pays attention to the female figure and not only that, but it also illustrates it. Before the Art Nouveau era, women despised the idea of wearing jewelry that depicts the figure of another woman, but thanks to the Art Nouveau movement, the feminine profile, especially the nude feminine profile has become a hallmark of the entire period.
HOW ART NOUVEAU JEWELRY REACHED EVERY CORNER OF THE WORLD?
In the 1890s, there was not such a thing like internet or television to spead the novelties with the speed of sound, so the fame of Art Nouveau jewelry grew at its own pace. The German jewelry industry was the first one that took over the newly developed French design and they named it as “Jugendstil”. They modified it by implementing more geometric lines and abstract designs that were having their golden years from 1900 to 1905. The next “big manufactury” of Art Nouveau jewelry was Austria with its “Wiener Sezession”, then Belgium, England, Scotland and Spain. Each country left its own mark on their Art Nouveau craftsmanship that made it different and distinguishable from the others. Art Nouveau jewelry arrived in the United States in the late 1890s and inspired some marvelous designs of our jewelry houses.
As for today, this type of jewelry is highly appreciated for wedding and engagement purposes as a distinctive choice and a way of expressing femininity with an enhanced vintage flair.
Written by: Liljana Tomova
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