Tag Archive | art deco

Art Nouveau

Contemporaneous with the “Belle Époque,” or “beautiful era” in France at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the Art Nouveau movement was one of the first departures from classical art and design, towards a new modernism. Influenced by the work of English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and the architectural work of Antoni Gaudí among others, Art Nouveau designers believed that all the arts should work in harmony to create a “total work of art,” or Gesamtkunstwerk: buildings, furniture, textiles, clothes, and jewellery all went together to make up the Art Nouveau style.

 

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Antoni Gaudí’s architecture was at an influence in the Art Nouveau movement

 

 

Exotic floral motifs with animals, birds, butterflies, peacock feathers, insects, and plants were incorporated with feminine imagery or fairies, mermaids and nymphs, complete with long flowing sinuous hair. Some of the floral motifs that were used in the Art Nouveau style were influenced by the English artist William Morris’ ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’ of the late Victorian era.

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Typical Art Nouveau themes including peacocks, and feminine forms could be found in architecture and decorative design of the era.

Typical Art Nouveau themes including peacocks, and feminine forms could be found in architecture and decorative design of the era.

 

Jewellery of the Art Nouveau period with nature and feminine fluidity as their principal source of inspiration, revitalised the ‘art’ of jewellery, they were complemented by new levels of technical accomplishment in techniques such as enamelling, and the introduction of new materials, such as opals and semi-precious stones, wonderfully demonstrated in the work of René Lalique who was synonymous with the Art Nouveau aesthetic.

 

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Peacock Lady brooch, Lalique, circa 1898

 

 

Although a short period of no more than 20 years, Art Nouveau is considered by many to be one of the most important styles. For the previous two centuries the emphasis in fine jewellery had been on gemstones, particularly diamonds, and the jeweller or goldsmith’s main aim was to provide settings to best show them off. In the jewellery of the Art Nouveau period, imagination, design, art and beauty were at the forefront, resulting in original distinctive work which invokes the era, even now.

Employing what was to become known as the “garland” style, jewellers who chose not to embrace Art Nouveau borrowed the fluidity of their lines and incorporated them into more traditional motifs thereby creating Edwardian jewellery.

WW1 hearelded the end of the Art Nouveau movement – the world was a different place. The elegance and sensuality of the Art Nouveau style was replaced by more rational minimalist styles such as Art Deco.

 

 

The most precious of metals…?

Gold and silver have been the “go to” metals for jewellery for a long time, but there are alternatives (we’ll be taking a look at some of the newer ones in future posts) but we thought we would look at that premium metal which is becoming ever more popular with wedding jewellery…Platinum.

Platinum Nugget, picture from Wikipedia, copyright  Heinrich Pniok.

Platinum Nugget, picture from Wikipedia, copyright Heinrich Pniok.

The history of platinum dates back more than three thousand years, beginning with the ancient civilisation of Egypt. Archaeologists have found Egyptian gold pieces from as far back as 1400BC that contain traces of platinum.

Platinum came to the attention of European scientists in the mid 1700’s but remained fairly obscure till the 1890’s when French jeweller Louis Cartier started using it. It became more popular in the 1920s and 30s especially in Art Deco jewellery. It also became popular for engagement and wedding rings a trend that continues still today. It is the most expensive precious metal due to its rarity; platinum is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, above gold and silver. It is dense and hard wearing, which makes it the strongest and best setting for precious gems; it also requires only minimal cleaning.  Unlike silver, it does not tarnish and it has the advantage over rhodium-plated gold, in that it does not wear away with time.

Platinum & other materials pin set by Lacloche Freres, from the V&A Collection, bequeathed to the museum by Miss J.H.G. Gollan

Platinum & other materials pin set by Lacloche Freres, from the V&A Collection, bequeathed to the museum by Miss J.H.G. Gollan

Due to its desirable characteristics, there has been more of a push in recent times to have the metal seen not just for classical wedding jewellery but as a metal used in innovative design and trend based jewellery. The Lonmin Design Innovation award was set up 11 years ago to recognise and reward outstanding design in platinum. A previous winner of this award in 2012 was Laura Strand the head designer at Purejewels for their Platinium Heritage Collection, this range asks up-and-coming designers to submit platinum design ideas for the PureJewels range, and the collection is something to behold so please do check out the link!

Platinum has it all beauty, rarity, longevity and purity (nothing else has to be added to ensure its high shine and whiteness) but it also has a hefty price tag! Of course this means that we area always on the look out for an alternative and a strong contender can be found in the form of its cheaper relative Palladium! More about this lookalikey metal in a future post….