History of Art Nouveau Jewelry

Art Nouveau Jewelry

There were many forces at work during the latter half of the 19th century in decorative arts. The revolution that created the Arts & Crafts movement in England began with dissatisfaction of poor design and quality of machine made goods. The movements craftsmen advocated the inclusion of art into everyday objects, thereby providing a place for art in our daily lives.
Art Nouveau brooch/pendant - c. 1900 - Featuring an elegant and elaborate floral motif, this antique pairs carefully crafted yellow gold with enamel - including an enchanting, transparent plique-a-jour backdrop - depicts a single pink-toned poppy flower 


The Japanese had a great bond between nature and design, Its simplicity of form, their intense use of color and their concept of mixed metals, gave birth to an entirely new decorative style. Japonisime, as it came to be called, was the era design that the craft movement of the nineteenth century was looking for. The Japanese were invited to participate in the 1862 International Exhibition in London.

Beautiful collection "In the jewelry Garden" by Japanese master Kunio Nakajima
Peacock Pectoral Born in France (1860-1945) Lalique's work is stunning, with many pieces that are tied to nature and the female form. His glass designs are by far the most recognizable in the world, and have been copied by many, since the 1920's and 1930's. During the 19th century 'Art Nouveau' was largely inspired by the Japanese influences that poured into Europe and helped shaped there sense of creativity and design.


In France, Europe and the United States, the Arts and Crafts movement supported emerging ideas in the arts, especially jewelry and metalwork, The Arts and Crafts movement resulted in Guilds and Cooperatives that provided an environment for this revival for creativity. Hand crafted goods, in combination of Japonisme would blend together and become Art Nouveau. 

Art Nouveau Ring | Fabian Montjoye. France. Marquise ring set with a ruby. Yellow gold, lozenge shape.
LEOPOLD VAN STRYDONCK 1865-1939 Attrib. (Belgian Court Jeweller & Goldsmith) Art Nouveau Chimera Buckle Gilded silver & lapis lazuli Length: 4cm Width: 12cm Circa 1900. Fitted case. Literature: cf. Le Bijou Art Nouveau en Europe
United States
Crafted in 14kt gold, this brooch was created by Krementz & Company around 1900. Krementz was one of the premier makers of Art Nouveau jewels in the United States. One of their hallmarks was the use of pastel enamels, like the soft yellows, greens and whites of this brooch.

In Paris, Art Dealer Samuel Bing re-opened his revitalized Asian Art Gallery and name it "L' Art Nouveau" not realizing he had given the new movement a name. In 1895, Bing created an International Exhibition to celebrate the re-opening of his gallery. He brought together many of the artists that would form the core of the Art Nouveau movement. The re-opening of Bings new L'Art Nouveau brought together many types and styles of decorative objects including: Tiffany Favrile Glass, Galle Glass and items in a variety of decorative arts by Lalique.
Samuel Bing's house of New Art
Having laid the groundwork for his new venture, Samuel Bing set out to create a Art Nouveau Pavilion for the for the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris. Bing selected artists whom he felt suited his interpretation of the new movement. Artists like: Edward Colonna, Georges De Fevre and Eugene Gaillard.
Exposition Universelle 1900
By 1890, Lalique was recognized as one of France's foremost art nouveau jewellery designers; creating innovative pieces for Samuel Bing's new Paris shop, La Maison de l'Art Nouveau.

A interesting theme came about in Art Nouveau design, the Free-Flowing Line, sometimes refered to as the "Whiplash Line". It was incorporated into designs to suggest movement and was an interpretation of the shapes and lines found in plants, a woman's hair and feminine curves. The way in which this line was employed came to devine the characteristics of Art Nouveau as it manifested itself in various countries.
Stunning Art Nouveau chandelier earrings created in England in the 1910's. Soft curves, free flowing lines, sensual proportions, combination of purple amethyst and yellow gold are the highlights of these amazing earrings.

In England the Free-Flowing Line appeared as a Celtic Revival with its creative squares, triangles and knots. The French used the line to define a woman's hair or the movement in a plant, other cultures used it to create free flowing abstract designs.

Gold, turquoise, and pearl necklace, 1902. This necklace was designed by Archibald Knox (1864-1933) for Liberty Co's Cymric range of jewellery which was launched by the London-based company in 1899. For the range, Knox combined aspects of Art Nouveau with Celtic forms, contributing to both the development of Celtic Revival and British Art Noveau.

“Rene Lalique became one of France’s leading jewelers in the art nouveau style. He designed very ornate jewelry and headdresses for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. She wore his jewelry on stage as costumes and off stage as her own personal collection.

Insects as Fantasy Creatures were used often in Art Nouveau jewelry, Butterflies and Dragonflies with their Pique-a-jour enamel wings, Beetles, Grasshoppers, Spiders and other insects all inspired jewelers working in the Art Nouveau aesthetic. Serpents and Reptiles were a popular motif for Art Nouveau jewelry, created with movement and beautiful colors. Magnificent Peacocks with their colorful plumage, Swans, Swallows and Cockerels were all incorporated into Art Nouveau jewelry. On a creepy side, Bats, Owls, Vultures, Grotesques and Mythological Creatures added a fresh and chilling choice for jewelry

Art Nouveau butterfly brooch ~ Gold set with diamonds and rubies ~ Rozert and Fischmeister, 1910, Vienna ~ by C. Dillon, Leopold Museum, Vienna.
Eight snakes falling in a cascade from a knot formed by their bodies. The ninth snake emerges above as if striking. Gold and enamel pectoral by René Lalique, Museu Gulbenkian, Lisbon
CHARLES ROBERT ASHBEE (1863-1942) Guild of Handicraft Peacock Brooch (c. 1900 English)
A late nineteenth-century French pearl, bloodstone, diamond and enamel brooch; the central section is designed as a shell containing Triton, a merman of Classical mythology. 

Miniature Landscapes were also created combining many aspects of the natural world into  jewelry construction.
Silver, Gold, Diamond, Pearl and Enamel Miniature Brooch, Late 19th Century. An enamelled miniature of a landscape at sunrise or sunset, signed at the lower left LMR, leaves highlighted by small rose-cut diamonds, within a frame set with old European-cut and rose-cut diamonds, accented at the top and bottom with small pearls.

Art Nouveau Jewelry  Part 2

The Victorians had always considered the use of the Female figure and face as objectionable in jewelry design, but, Art Nouveau jewelers embraced the idea that the female form could be combined with elements from the natural world, like butterfly wings or floral elements. These Art Nouveau artists incorporated these feminine fantasies on beautiful Diadems, Brooches, Bracelets and Rings. It took some time, but the Victorians feelings and ideals changed and a "Cult of the Female Figure" ruled the design world.
The changing roles for women, actresses, and opera singers all inspired Art Nouveau artisans to create beautiful jewels.

 Rene Lalique,

Art Nouveau jewelers were adept in their choice of mediums when creating their jewels, using new ones along with the old. Gold and Silver was still being used in great quantities, along with gems, such as Opals and Moonstones and natural elements like Horn, Bone and Ivory, which could be sculpted into beautiful creations. Enamel was also used extensively when designing and crafting Art Nouveau jewelry. Champleve Enamel was masterfully applied in new and exciting ways. Pate de Verre, a beautiful type of glass could be crafted into a gem-like appearance and worked into unique creations.

Lalique 1919 signed 'Se Balancant' Pendant Figurine: 6-cm tall clear oval-shaped glass w/a frosted winged nude female on a garland swing

One of the most important and loved designers in the Art Nouveau style was Rene Lalique (1860-1945). When Lalique was young and first starting out, he sold his designs to large jewelry houses. such as: Boucheron, Cartier and Verver. Lalique was very adept in art and worked in many different areas of Decorative Arts. Eventually he started producing his own designs to great success. Lalique loved working with glass and eventually this became his life's work. After causing a stir in the art world, Laliques art that included the nude female figure was to become his trademark.

Diamond, enamel, pink tourmaline, and high karat gold combine for this exquisite Georges Fouquet designed French Art Nouveau brooch. The center features an exquisite spray of flowers, decorated with enamel and old European-cut diamonds at the centers. Total diamond weight is: 2.40 cts.

Another huge player in the Art Nouveau movement was the workshops of Fouquet. Founded in 1860. Alphonse Fouquet's son Georges (1862-1957) took his father's workshop in a whole new direction using Opals, Enamel, Chased Gold and colored stones in his creations. Designer Charles Desrosiers joined Fouquet and designed some of the most beautiful jewels of the period. Collaboration with such important artisans as Alphonse Mucha and Etienne Tourette propelled the firm to new heights.

AN EXCEPTIONAL ART NOUVEAU PLIQUE-A-JOUR ENAMEL AND DIAMOND CHOKER, BY LUCIEN GAILLARD. Designed as three openwork panels of plique-à-jour green enamel ginkgo leaves, enhanced by black enamel stems and rose-cut diamonds, with rose and old European-cut diamond trim, with a black velvet ribbon backing, mounted in gold, circa 1900, 13¼ ins. Signed L. Gaillard.

Lucien Gaillard (1861-1933) was another important artist working in the Art Nouveau style. Gaillard's workshop was located in Paris. Working in the Japanese style, Lucien created many beautiful Haircombs, Pendants and Plaques de Cou, using unique Horn, Enamels, Opal and Colored Stones. Lucien loved to work with Patination, which became his specialty.

A wonderful era of Art Nouveau - Art Nouveau Jewelry. Louis Comfort Tiffany, Philippe Wolfers & Vever

Another wonderful artisan in the Art Nouveau movement was Henri Vervier (1854-1942), Vervier usually never designed his own work, but, used the designs of others. One of the most popular items created by Vervier were his Pearl and Enamel Haircombs.

Great jewelry houses and workshops like Chaumet, Coulon and Cartier created beautiful jewelry in the Edwardian style with some crossover into the Art Nouveau aesthetic. Both the Art Nouveau movement and the Edwardian style were growing side by side in France and England

Each one of these artists and their workshops were unique and created Art Nouveau jewelry in a slightly different way.

 René Lalique Dragonfly Woman Corsage Ornament Pin {1897–1898} Gold, Enamel, Chrysoprase, Moonstones, and Diamonds.

Specialization was becoming a large part of creating Art Nouveau jewelry and is why French Art Nouveau jewelry was known for its technical achievement. Enameling is one example, Enamel became characteristic of Art Nouveau jewelry and not all jewelers were proficient in the art. A great number of well known jewelry houses hired out certain elements of jewelry construction to workshops that specialized in a certain area of the jewelry making process. Many of the jewels created were designed by a artisan, created by a jeweler and finished by a specialist.

Antique French Art Nouveau Sterling Silver and Gold Communion Medal

Small Medal jewelry was very popular during the Art Nouveau movement and was produced using mass production, which became a way to spread this jewelry to as many people as possible. Unique and beautiful Brooches, Pendants, Buttons, Stickpins, Cufflinks and charms took on the forms of Greek and Roman Gods and Godesses, Feminine profiles, Religious Motifs and symbols from nature.

LEVINGER & BISSINGER Jugendstil Hat Pins Silver Plique-à-jour enamel

Art Nouveau in Germany and Austria was referred to as Jugendstil. Floral, along with other plants were their main motifs. Theodore Fahrner (1868-1929) was a popular and major producer of the Jugendstil style of jewelry.He created inexpensive jewelry in great quantities, usually from designs from the Darmstadt Colony of artisans.

Wiener Werkstatte Cuff. Multi-level, of chased and hammered silver with coral accents. Attributed to Josef Hoffmann, circa 1910.

The most beautiful and popular jewelry in Austria was designed and manufactured by the Wiener Werkstatte under the design leadership and supervision of Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) 

ARCHIBALD KNOX 1864-1933 - Rare Liberty & Co Pendant - Gold, Opal, Pearl. British, c.1900.

In England, the Art Nouveau movement was a spinoff of the Arts and Crafts movement and exhibited a great deal of crossover with that aesthetic. Liberty & Co. and Charles Robert Ashbee started using machines to reproduce their jewelry circa 1900, and as a result many pieces are still available today. Designer Archibald Knox introduced a beautiful Celtic Revival style into Liberty's line with much success. 

Black Opal, Opaline and Enamel Pendant, Tiffany & Co., c. 1905,the black opal among opaline grapes, vines and enamel leaves, 18kt gold and platinum mount, signed.

In the United States, major American jewelry houses designed and created fine and unique Art Nouveau jewelry, designs were, on the most part, mass produced, in Newark, New Jersey and Providence, Rhode Island.

Spectacular, one of a kind, handmade Art Nouveau pieces were created by Tiffany & Co. The Tiffany studios mixed unusual gems with Baroque Pearls, incorporating flowing lines and naturalistic motifs. 

Art Nouveau Opal, Diamond, and Enamel Brooch, Marcus & Co., centering an opal matrix cabochon within a scrollwork frame, and suspending a conforming drop, set with seventy-six old mine- and old European-cut diamonds

Marcus & Co. produced a derivative of French Floral themed jewels with extensive use of enamel.

The Close of the Art Nouveau Movement

What began as a revolution in the interpretation of design, drawing artisans from every discipline, ended up as a mass produced product in an over saturated market.
The Art Nouveau movement drew to a close with the onset of war in Europe. The style was not picked up again until after the war, but some of its design elements can be found in the Modernist movement as it breaks through into popular culture c. 1930


  1. Wonderful examples!! Well written article!

  2. I agree with the above person, wonderful examples and great article! I enjoyed learning about the various historical trends, and styles. Black Opal, Opaline and Enamel Pendant, Tiffany & Co. and Art Nouveau Opal, Diamond, and Enamel Brooch, Marcus & Co are beautiful!

    Keep up the great work.

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