The History Behind Art Nouveau Jewelry

The History Behind Art Nouveau Jewelry

We’ve discussed the story behind art deco jewelry, but before art deco came along, art nouveau was the trending style of the day. A short-lived design that was worn only by select members of society, art nouveau was nevertheless a fascinating and brilliant period of jewelry design.

The Beginning of Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau (“new art”) is typically associated with the art movement of the latter half of the 19th century, but it also inspired a line of jewelry around the same time. Created in France in the 1890s, it departed from the Edwardian style and only used gemstones as accents in its design. Art nouveau was decidedly woman-centric, emphasizing nature and femininity by displaying flora, fauna, and mythical women such as Medusa.

Who Wore Art Nouveau Jewelry?

While art nouveau was woman-centric, it appealed only to a specific sect of women in French society. Because of its exotic designs and large, “in-your-face” size, only wealthy, unmarried women typically wore them. A number of well-known entertainers also wore art nouveau, but because of its unconventional style, only those on the fringes of acceptable society dared to wear them.

The Fall of Art Nouveau

As commercialization started to wane, so too did art nouveau. The flashiness and over-the-top style of art nouveau jewelry became too much, especially with the onset of World War I. By the end of the war, art deco jewelry would become the trending style of the day.

While Art Nouveau jewelry didn’t last long, it still left a lasting impression. At Frank Pollak & Sons, we sell several vintage art nouveau jewelry pieces that we’re sure will wow anyone.

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