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An Introduction to Art Nouveau

By Caitlyn Learman


Between the years of 1890 and 1915, the Art Nouveau movement was in full swing! Originating in France, the designers of this era thought that art should be a way of life and translated that beautifully into the artistic jewelry pieces that were crafted during this time. Unfortunately, this era was very short lived as it only stuck around for 15 years. With the arrival of World War I, people soon lost interest in the over the top flashy jewelry pieces and the style was put to rest. For such a short period of time in fashion, Art Nouveau has had a lasting impression on the world. There hasn’t been anything quite like it since, making the jewelry from this era highly coveted by collectors around the world!

Art is a Way of Life

The Art Nouveau movement influenced many things, ranging from the jewelry of the era all the way to architecture! Easily characterized by smooth flowing lines and delicate motifs inspired by nature and its natural beauty, the jewelry of this era was incredibly intricate and unique. Flowers like orchids and irises were quite commonly used in designs as well as birds and dragonflies.

Jewelry from the Art Nouveau period also expanded on what type of material was typically being used in the industry prior to its time. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds were still commonly seen being used and were featured in many designs, but there was also a very strong emphasis put on metalworking and the use of “unconventional” materials like enamel and glass. Shell, opal, and pearls were often seen worked into pieces as well to create unique texture and designs. Many of the pieces from this era almost have a stained-glass quality to them because of the techniques that were being used.

Some of the most week known Art Nouveau designers of the era were Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Lalique was a French glass designer who also specialized in crafting Art Nouveau jewelry and even designed pieces for Cartier!

Louis Comfort Tiffany was the first design director for Tiffany & Co. His jewelry pieces were highly influenced by nature and featured many floral motifs, as did the stained glass he was so famous for.

Looking to add some artistic flair to your collection? Take a look at our Art Nouveau items on 100 Ways!