´Art nouveau´, also called ́new art´ in French. In the time between 1890 and 1910, the art nouveau movement brought many new creative insights. This new trend emerged not only in art but also in clothing, jewellery, architecture and much more.
Art Nouveau was an art movement that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a reaction to already existing artistic styles. The emergence of this art movement came about due to several factors, including social, cultural and technological changes. New materials through new techniques, a desire for innovation and the industrial revolution were the main influences that ensured the emergence of Art Nouveau.
The art movement can be recognised by its organic and natural flowlines. Think fossils, plant motifs, curved lines and asymmetry. All these natural forms were a backlash against industrialisation at the time. Industrialisation is the process by which more and more resources were made by machines in large quantities rather than by humans with passion.
The gemstones used to embody the style of art nouveau were opals, pearls, amethysts, emeralds, sapphires and moonstones. The gemstones and materials featured in various jewellery such as rings, pendants and brooches.
Brooches are the best-known types of jewellery made during the Art Nouveau period. Brooches were popular during this period because of their ability to depict complex designs and creative expression, matching the beauty of the Art Nouveau movement.
A very important style icon at this time was Antoni Gaudi. You might know him for his beautiful architectures in Barcelona. Think of the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo. These two architectures are full of exuberant use of colour, texture and movement. He is considered the founder of organic architecture.
Antoni Gaudi was primarily an architect and his influence was directly related to architecture and art and not specifically directly to the jewellery industry. However, his work did influence the creative fields of his time, which in turn influenced the jewellery industry. For instance, you can see in Antoni Gaudi's work a lot of use of colour, texture, organic shapes and motifs. This is very similar to the jewellery coming from this era, which made Antoni Gaudi very relevant as an inspiration for this jewellery.
In addition, Louis Comfort Tiffany was also a relevant style icon at this time. He was an American artist best known for his picturesque stained-glass windows and lamps. Louis was the son of the well-known jeweller named Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany & Co. Louis' handmade stained-glass lampshades with floral motifs were his iconic contribution to the art world. These specimens are still very much loved today.
A crucial turning point in this period was the 1900 World's Fair. Here, different artists presented art created by them in various forms. The exhibition was used to showcase their economic, social, cultural and technical development. This ensured global recognition of the new art movement by allowing all participating countries to see the art pieces presented.
Tiffany's work was exhibited at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris. It was here that his glassware and decorative artworks first gained international attention. His success at these exhibitions contributed to the worldwide spread of the Art Nouveau style.
Art nouveau had a strong influence on the jewellery industry. There was more experimentation with different techniques and materials. In addition, more use was made of cheaper materials such as glass, ivory, horn and enamel. This gave rise to eccentric jewellery as it became more daring. Thus, it was also a trend to reflect organic shapes in jewellery, just like in architecture. During the Art Nouveau period, handmade craft was in high demand. Jewellery was often handmade by artisans, making each piece unique. As a result, there was more personal attention to detail and craft skills added to the artistic value of jewellery. Because of these features, jewellery has reliable quality.
All in all, Art Nouveau jewellery lets us relive an era when art and craft fused together to create beautiful jewellery, which to this day is seen as the symbol of organic elegance.