Jewelry Periods Defined: Art Nouveau

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pewter lamp

Art Nouveau pewter lamp, Germany, circa 1900

Art Nouveau (noo-VOE) means “new art” in French, and it’s one of the names for a stylistic movement in Europe and the US that involved architecture, fine art, clothing, and other consumer products, as well as jewelry. Essentially a reaction against stuffy Victorian styles, Art Nouveau peaked around the turn of the century (in 1900) and ended before World War I (1914-1918).

Many designs from this period are sensual and exotic looking. The female form (often nude) was a favorite theme. Others include plants and flowers; insects, snakes, bats, and other animals; sunbursts, stars, and crescent moons – all portrayed with strong, fluid lines and subtle but striking color combinations.

Diamonds and the classic colored gemstones (emerald, ruby, and sapphire) often appear in Art Nouveau jewelry, but some of the best pieces from this period feature gems such as opal and moonstone, along with sophisticated enamel and metalwork, plus glass and more unusual materials like horn.

For more Art Nouveau inspiration, follow our Pinterest board, Art Nouveau Dreaming. 

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