Art Nouveau Jewelry

Posted on July 13, 2016 Under Jewelry History


The Art Nouveau period, dating from 1895-1914, is best described as a visual arts movement heavily inspired by fantasy, Japanese art, and organic forms. Jewelry from this period tends to showcase fluid lines, sometimes called “whiplash lines, ” fantasy creatures, insects, and strong use of color. The name “Art Nouveau” originated in Paris, France, by art dealer, Samuel Bing. He reopened his Asian art gallery L’Art Nouveau in 1895, featuring a wide range of media from various artists that would later be the prominent figures of this period. The movement became a worldly phenomenon in 1900, when Bing set up a pavilion at the International Exhibition that year.

Important materials used in this period were silver & gold set with colorful gemstones, accentuating the fantasy themes of each piece. Moonstone and opal’s phenomenal properties were adored by jewelers, while various enameling techniques added soft pops of color. Enameling was at the height of its popularity- some of the best enamel work can be traced back to the Art Nouveau period.

The female form was highly embraced during this period. You may find pieces of jewelry that contain the female body morphed into mythological creatures such as mermaids, or even transformed into insects, such as butterflies and dragonflies. Female curves were a source of inspiration during this time, as the soft curves of the female figure share the same organic lines found in nature. Blending these two ideas created beautiful, mystical pieces of art and jewelry that would later contrast with the geometric style of the Art Deco movement.