Art Nouveau (modern) style - a fresh wind of change in jewelry

Art Nouveau Sapphire Pearl Pendant Necklace with Enamel and Pearls Interesting

The Art Nouveau style swept in like the wind and captured the minds of artists all over the world. This trend turned the views on design not only in the jewelry art - painting, literature, interior, architecture, everything changed with the advent of a new aesthetic.

It was more like not even a wind, but a storm, a huge wave that swept around the Earth, and left behind beautiful works of art on the shore.

The wonderful time did not last long. The Art Nouveau period began in 1890 and seemed to end around 1910 at the start of the First World War.

RENE LALIQUE. Pendant "Kiss". Ivory, enamel, gold, diamonds

Jewelry in the Art Nouveau style broke all the old traditions and laws in the creation of jewelry.

The art nouveau style is distinguished by a whimsically curving line. In nature, there is nothing direct, graphic, all lines and outlines are not subject to any logic, like women.

Butterflies, dragonflies, birds, plants and nymphs are the heroes of this style.

Boucheron. Art Nouveau enamel and butterfly

Art Nouveau (modern) style - a fresh wind of change in jewelry

Rene Lalique. Art Nouveau brooch in gold, enamel and moonstone

Rene Lalique

Opal in the arms of enamel irises - in the Art Nouveau era, the most quoted flowers and favorite stone in jewelry.

Opal in the arms of enamel irises - in the Art Nouveau era, the most quoted flowers and favorite stone in jewelry.

Art Nouveau jewelers preferred to work with semi-precious rather than precious materials. The focus was on originality and craftsmanship of design, rather than the high cost of stones and metals.

Jeweler virtuoso René Lalique has lovingly recreated delicate ivy leaves that look completely natural.
This brooch by Georges Fouquet is now in the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Jewelry was made from a new type of plastic called galalite, pressed glass and enamel.

Galalite is a casein plastic, a casein-formaldehyde resin obtained by treating casein with formaldehyde. The commercial name "galalite" comes from the Greek words γάλα (milk) and λιθος (stone).

Galalite is an odorless substance, insoluble in water, biodegradable, non-allergenic, antistatic and practically non-flammable. Depending on the specific gravity and water content - transparent light yellow to completely opaque dark-colored. The production technology made it possible to obtain material with various artistic effects.

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Galalite is well turned and polished. It was used to make buttons, combs, handles, handles for umbrellas and walking sticks. The highest grades of galalite were used to imitate ivory, amber and horn.

Pendant using galalite. Rene Lalique
Decoration using molded (pressed) glass. Rene Lalique

Plique à jour enamel was often used to give jewelry a translucent effect. Although it was not easy to master this technique, the results are incredibly beautiful.

Plique-à-jour (French for "to let in daylight") is vitreous enamel. The technique, in which the enamel is applied into cells, is similar to cloisonné, but without a backing in the final product, so light can pass through transparent or translucent enamel. It is essentially a miniature version of stained glass and is considered very technically challenging.

René Lalique's famous plique à jour brooch. Museum exhibit
Another delightful example of stained glass enamel. Marcus and Company. New York, museum exhibit

Despite the fact that the jewelry was created from inexpensive materials, they were not consumer goods, in demand among the masses. Just the majority of the townsfolk were outraged by the frank eroticism of the products.

Pendants in the form of naked nymphs Henri Vever is an example of this:

Art Nouveau (modern) style - a fresh wind of change in jewelry

Art Nouveau (modern) style - a fresh wind of change in jewelry

However, this style was very popular among the Parisian bohemia, who could afford such courage ...

Golden nymphs Lalique
Masriera. Pendant "Forest Nymph"
Fairytale dragon - Art Nouveau decoration
Luis Masriera - Art Nouveau Jeweler
Gabriel Falguier. Rare Art Nouveau pendant/brooch in 18K gold and enamel


And this whole marvelous and beautiful world, in which poets and artists reigned, was interrupted by a cruel reality. The First World War began.

No one is interested in charm, tenderness and beauty in harsh times. And the miracle faded. Romanticism and love gave way to harsh reality, industrial order, strict geometry and straight lines.

But you know the laws of nature - tender shoots of greenery are able to grow through the asphalt, so the wonderful era of Art Nouveau began to revive after a while.