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Art Nouveau Popular Stones

The most popular stone in the Art Nouveau Period was the Alexandrite, Celluloid, Demantoid Garnets, Pearls, Moonstones, and Peridot. Alexandrite was the newest stone being used.  This stone comes from Siberia and is a lovely dark green which is transparent.  Under artificial light, Alexandrites turn to a pigeon blood red. Celluloid was a new material which was made into combs, bracelets, necklaces and brooches.  Since this material was less expensive, these items were available to those with more modest means and who wanted jewelry that looked more expensive. 

Celluloid is an artificial plastic used between 1890 – 1917. Twenty five cents to a dollar would allow you to buy little trinkets such as trays, fancy boxes, silver mounted combs, brushes and mirrors. Demantoid Garnets are the most expensive garnets and were most popular during the Art Nouveau Period.  This stone has a stunning green color.  It was discovered in 1868.  Demantoid Garnets are generally one to two carats in size.  Tiffany and Co. became enamored with this beautiful stone and made jewelry with it between 1885 -1915.  The mines “played out” in 1905. Pearls have been a favorite of women throughout the ages. 

They were used in necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings and sometimes were sewn onto dresses as decoration as they are today in wedding dresses.  As described by C. Keanenne Bell, G.G., “ Pearls are formed in mollusks.  They begin when a tiny irritant enters the oyster.  It reacts by secreting a substance called nacre (NAY-kur) to surround the intruder.  The gradual build-up of this substance creates the pearl”. Freshwater pearls are found throughout the world in rivers.  The most valuable of these pearls were found in the White River in Arkansas between 1896-1899. They were valued at over half a million dollars. Pearls come in many shapes.  The most desirable is the round pearl which makes up strands of pearls.

  A pearl that weighs less than a grain is called a seed pearl and was often used in the Victorian and the Art Nouveau Periods as was the baroque pearl.  Baroque pearls are considered malformed.  Blister pearls and button pearls are often used in earrings, brooches and rings today. Between 1890-1970, moonstones were very popular.  Moonstone is made of translucent feldspar and has a blue white sheen.  These stones were often given to sweethearts as it supposedly had powers of persuasion.  Although moonstone is rarely used today, it is considered one of the June birthstones. Peridot was considered a good luck stone by King Edward VII.  It was popular during his reign.  Peridot are olive green and yellow green to brownish in color.

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