Art Nouveau jewelry, from 1890-1905, had a very distinctive style. It came after the period that was very restrictive. The design of the Art Nouveau Period followed the way of the Arts and Crafts Period to a certain extent. Everything was handcrafted and became feminine and romantic. Flowing, curvy lines, organic designs like flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, poppies, orchids, irises, snakes and designs of a woman’s head or figure were commonly used.
Jewelry material that was used beside gold, silver and copper were shell, horn, ivory, tortoise shell, carved glass and enameling. Pastel gemstones like cabochon opals, moonstones, citrine, amber and peridot were used as well as pearls.
The signature designs were curvy and flowing as mentioned above. You could expect to see a woman’s head or figure with flowing hair, a butterfly or dragonfly in flight or beautiful budding flower designs as brooches or pendants. Rings contained flowers or flowers with leaves and filigree. Every piece of jewelry was truly a piece of art.
Plique a jour was also very popular. It was glass enameling that looked like stained glass connected to ribbons of gold, silver or copper. If you are lucky enough to have a piece of this jewelry, hold it up to the light and you can see through your piece of art. Plique a jour was also used to make vases and other objects of art.
Old plique a jour was extremely rare and one of a kind because only a small number of artists had perfected the art. This style of jewelry making required skill not only requiring a master jeweler but this person must also have been able to make translucent enameling, “in air”, which is enameling without backing. Truly a skilled art.