Art Nouveau 101

Art Nouveau Rings

Art Nouveau 1890-1915

We like to think of Art Nouveau as embodying the original “boho chic” style. The Art Nouveau design movement emerged in 1890s Paris and blossomed till about 1915. Based on a return to craftsmanship vs. mass produced jewelry that became prevalent in the Victorian days (We knew we were like-minded Bohemians!) and an emphasis on design over material, Art Nouveau pieces often used less expensive colored gems like moonstone, opal, amethyst, citrine, peridot and freshwater pearls as well as beautiful enameling techniques. We often see pieces finished with a “bloomed gold” effect. The technique, in which a gold object is heated then put in an acid bath, draws the pure gold to the surface of the piece and gives it a smooth, matte finish and a high-carat look.

Sinuous, free-flowing lines and an interest in the natural world were integral design elements. The representation of a female head with long flowing hair is often seen in Art Nouveau jewelry. At the same time, end-of-the-century uncertainty fostered a sense of mystery and fantasy in design, such as mythical hybrid creatures. Hmm… this is all sounding very Venice, CA circa 2015.