Art Nouveau was a brief moment (c. 1890-1910), which had a lasting impact on jewellery design and many other arts. It was a completely new style based on original ideas, innovative materials and entirely different design principles. In reaction to increasingly machine-made, mass-produced jewellery, free-floating forms from the natural world were explored as never before. An Art Nouveau opal, enamel and pearl pendant necklace, by Georges Fouquet, circa 1900. This lot was offered in Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection on 13 November 2017 at Christie’s in Geneva and sold for CHF 300,000
One of the most fascinating aspects of Art Deco jewelry is the diversity of stylistic elements it encompasses.
Marie-Cécile Cisamolo, Christie’s jewellery specialist: ‘Lalique was first and foremost a designer. Once inspired by a subject — whether flora, fauna, wasps or peacocks, he created variations on it using different models and materials. “The Kiss” is a recurrent theme in his work, starting with “The Kiss” brooch, which was donated to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1960.
Antique Brooch Art Nouveau .24 Old European Cut Diamond & .24 Emerald Cut Emerald in 14k Yellow Gold
Here, we present the ins-and-outs of the iconic movement, exploring the avant-garde art, exquisite architecture, and dazzling design that have boldly defined for nearly a century.
Art Deco jewelry is by and large “white jewelry.” White metals, primarily platinum, were favored over yellow gold. Platinum was first used in jewelry at the end of the 19th century, and with the advancement in technology that allowed platinum to be easily worked, it remained popular through the Edwardian period. However, it became fashionable again with the discovery of the world’s largest platinum deposit in the Merensky Reef in northeast South Africa in 1924. Platinum, which could be manipulated to create fine and durable settings that, unlike silver, did not tarnish.
In the 1920s, women threw off their corsets and tight clothes and became daring flappers – “young things with a splendid talent for life” (F.Scott Fitzgerald). Their hems and their hair were getting shorter, their dresses were streamlined, vertical and sleeveless so they needed long earrings, and bangles they could wear all the way up the arm. The simplicity of the dresses of the day meant they could be dressed up with long strands of beads. Brooches and dress clips were worn on everyday clothes, not just for the evening, and they could be clipped onto hats, shoes, collars or coat lapels. Little mesh purses, and stylish Art Deco compacts completed the look.Opulence and extravagance were the order of the day and reflected the post war joie de vivre and recklessness of the jazz age.
Art Deco was a prominent style for jewelry in the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by geometric patterns and abstract designs using diamonds and gems in contrasting colors. The fact that it was a hit was no surprise: flappers and suffragettes of the Roaring 20s had little interest in wearing tiaras, diadems, cameos and other staples of the grandes dames of Victorian England (1837-1901). Rather, they wanted rings, long necklaces, long earrings and bracelets that complemented their short skirts, shorter hair, plunging necklines – and new sense of self.
An Art Nouveau rock crystal, diamond and enamel ‘The Kiss’ pendant necklace, by René Lalique, circa 1905. This lot was offered in Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection on 13 November 2017 at Christie’s in Geneva and sold for CHF 237,500
Finally, with the wrists, necks and ears covered, the only spot that needed to be dressed up were the fingers. Prohibition didn’t really stop anyone from drinking in the 1920s, and whether they were entertaining at home or drinking in a speakeasy, women went gaga for cocktail rings. In addition, cigarette holders, cigarette cases (even cigarette lighters with watches) and minaudières — those small jewel-like evening bags — all served as canvases for jewelers.
An Art Nouveau opal, diamond and enamel ‘cedars’ pendant necklace, by Georges Fouquet, 1901. This lot was offered in Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection on 13 November 2017 at Christie’s in Geneva and sold for CHF 480,500
An Art Deco Emerald and Diamond Ring, by Cartier. Sold for: $1,135,500 on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York
In this way, a jewelry designer could “paint” with stones on the bright, white surface of platinum and white gold with small sparkling diamonds as the background.. Delicate branches of blossoms in the Japanese taste, scenes of Ancient Egypt, and bold geometric designs could flow unimpeded across the surface of a bracelet or brooch.
If you love the fashions of the jazz age, Art Deco style jewelry is a great way to incorporate vintage beauty into your modern wardrobe. These styles, which features the repeating geometric motifs and sleek glamour of the 1920s and 1930s, work just as well for contemporary women as they did for the flapper girls of the past century.
There are varying stories of who actually invented the oxy-acetylene torch and where, but able to reach temperatures of 3000 degrees, it could be used to melt this seemingly intractable metal. By the beginning of the 20th century, many jewelers were experimenting with and perfecting its use. Why was this so important? Because of its hardness and tensile strength, it could be very finely worked, allowing much more refined and less conspicuous stone settings.
Synonymous with Gatsby-style glamour and the Jazz Age, the bold, sleek Art Deco era was a game-changing time in design. Its angular, geometric aesthetic celebrated the exciting new worlds of industry, speed, mechanisation and technology. It was a uniquely lively and eclectic time in design, and spanned the opulent, ‘Roaring 20s’ to the more austere 1930s.
World War 1 necessitated technological advances, and many of them proved to have great benefits in peacetime. The end of the war also saw many cultural changes both in Europe and in America. Women were enjoying greater freedom, and rejected the cumbersome long skirts and petticoats for lighter, shorter and sleeker garments.