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Art Nouveau Jewelry

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The Art Nouveau era extended from about 1880 to 1918. The trend can be traced back to Germany and France where the “Belle Époque,” or “beautiful period” started. The Spanish artist and architect, Gaudi, as well as Louis Comfort Tiffany, the famed glass and jewelry designer, influenced this period.

The design motifs included natural images such as dragonflies, peacocks, irises, pansies, frogs, butterflies and romanticized depictions of the female form. Typically, one would see exquisitely enameled women, with flowing curls, partially clothed with elaborately draped gossamer gowns.

The pieces incorporated both enamel work and gems in a symphony of color and artistry. Opals, moonstones, jade, rock crystal and quartz sparkled with small tiny rose-cut diamonds to make the jewelry come alive.

The designers were ingenious and sometimes used a series of tiny springs to make the wings of a dragonfly or the interior of a flower blossom vibrate and move with the wearer. The entremulant feature added another dimension to an already beautifully executed rendition of a seductive form.

Highly detailed reverse carvings were produced in rock crystal depicting classic motifs such as the Three Faiths, busts of Caesar or chariots with horses in mid-gallop. Sadly, many of the pieces did not survive due to changing tastes, but beautiful examples of inexpensive flowers pins, broaches and pendants can still be found in small shops and through respected dealers.

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