The Art Noveau movement in jewelry, albeit brief, ushered in a tremendous amount of change in the jewelry making process. Suddenly a more expressive, mystical and personal form of adornment became popular.
The Art Nouveau movement, although short lived (approximately 1890 through 1910) made a lasting impact on the jewelry industry which is still felt today. It was a reaction to the mass produced jewelry that had become so popular late in the Victorian period. The style of Art Nouveau jewelry was a radical change from the somberness and adherence to strict rules which characterized both French and English jewellery in the 1860’s and 1870’s. There were few restrictions in the design of Nouveau jewelry.
The most common motifs incorporated life forms, orchids, lilies, irises, ferns, snakes, dragonflies, animal and human forms. Life-like to dream-like simplicity of metal alone to the complexity of enamel and precious gems. The rebellion against the strict customs of the Victorian and Edwardian periods released an incredible out-pouring of creative energy that not only produced pieces of subtle beauty but also touched the sublime and the mystical. No longer would a piece of jewelry be a mere adornment, now it became a part of one’s soul.