Art Nouveau

The style emerged at the end of the 19th Century as a reaction to what was considered the general degradation of the quality and artistry in jewellery, which had been a consequence of the mass production seen in the second half of the 19th Century. It was a style that became popular in both Europe and America as many of the big jewellery houses such as Marcus & Co. and Tiffany had close ties with the art movements in Paris and London. The Art Nouveau jewellers chose gems and materials that best reflected the beauty of nature, regardless of their intrinsic value. Enamel was the weapon of choice for most and the period saw a revival of old techniques such as plique a` jour enamel which helped bring the natural hues to life. There are many names associated with the movement such as Henri Vever, Boucheron, Georges Fouquet, Gaillard, Gautrait, Masriera, Kockert and Koch to name but a few, but ReneĀ“ Lalique is largely considered the father of Art Nouveau. He worked tirelessly to develop the enamel techniques and evolve the style from its naturalistic beginnings by adding elements of fantasy and romance to his jewels. His pieces were studied and copied worldwide. The movement proved so popular, and infiltrated so many elements of design, that it soon became saturated with examples, not all of them with the quality found in Lalique and his contemporariesā€™ jewels, and the movement faded unusually quickly.