Art Nouveau Period, 1890 – 1915
Art Nouveau jewelry from the early nineteenth century gave fresh ideas, motif and craftsmanship to jewelry making. The French Art Nouveau jewelry was led by Rene Lalique followed by Henri Vever, Lucien Gaillard and the American craftsman, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Interestingly, Art Nouveau is French for “new art”. Art Nouveau jewelry and diamond engagement rings have a very distinctive style. Examples of the Art Nouveau Period were found not only in jewelry but in unusual and striking architecture, paintings and furniture to name a few. Windows and buildings, as well as jewelry, were designed in harmony with nature. Japanese artwork also motivated the tone of the Art Nouveau period which came to Europe in the mid 1800’s. It used the themes of landscapes in watercolor of winter, spring, summer and• fall as well as time of day to express its easy feel of natural beauty. When describing this time think of words such as romantic, emotive, exotic and expressive. Delicate and exquisite plique a jour enamel, which looks like stained glass, in pastel colors made in silver and gold were popular with the French Art Nouveau Period. Europe and America supplied beautiful works of art as well. Silver and gold, more than platinum were used in varying designs. When looking for Art Nouveau jewelry, pay attention to the flowing sensual female figures and designs of flowers, scroll work, insects and birds, such as swans, all with curved lines. The use of butterflies and dragonflies, with their delicate wings were also common in necklaces, brooches and stick pins.