The Art Nouveau movement started in the late 19th century as a rejection of mass-produced adornments and decor, which is ironic considering how much mass-produced jewelry was subsequently created in the Art Nouveau style. Victorian-Era industrialization had made jewelry widely available for the first time, as factories stamped out generic, fussy scroll designs in metal and sold them to the emerging middle class. Quickly, master artisans and craftspeople rebelled, asserting the importance of high-quality, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted furnishings, glassware, pottery, and jewelry.

Practitioners of Art Nouveau (or "The New Art" in French) adopted an asymmetrical, flowing, organic aesthetic that contrasted with the uptight, frilly, and historic styles favored by Victorians. French goldsmiths like Georges Fouquet and René Lalique, as well as American glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, made high-end pieces out of fine metals, enamel, glass, and precious and semi-precious gemstones, employing Art Nouveau themes like flowers, winged insects, and lovely ladies with long, sinewy hair. Lalique, in particular, came up with new techniques for using glass, enameling, and "humble" materials such as horn to make beautiful, wearable pieces of art.

World-traveling stage actress Sarah Bernhardt, known for her exotic and flamboyant head-to-toe adornments, flaunted this new style of jewelry on stage and off. Wearing Byzantine and Egyptian inspired pieces, she even put her pet chameleon on a gold chain to wear as a living brooch. In France, Maison Gripoix made cheap knockoffs of Bernhardt's jewelry out of metal, paste, and enamel, and these were snatched up at fashionable Paris boutiques. Bijoux Bardach made some of the diva's pieces—and likely, the most popular copies.

Piel Frères in Paris specialized in cheap but high-quality Art Nouveau jewelry, like its luxurious blue-green enamel peacock-feather belt buckle. This family jeweler, copying costumes seen in popular stage plays, replaced ivory with a new plastic called celluloid and used gilt copper and silver to achieve the look of gold. Companies like Rouzé and Mascaraud made stylish gilt fantasy pieces that were stamped out of metal by machine, but hand-finished.

The refreshing Art Nouveau aesthetic had a universal appeal, even to those with limited means, prompting factories to begin producing cheaper versions of the looks created by artisans. Starting around 1890, U.S. firm Gorham Corporation trademarked a line of "Martelé" jewelry that had a Gallic feel. Another American company, Unger Brothers, sold Art Nouveau-style jewelry in vermeiled silver. Other U.S. manufacturers—like Krementz and Frank M. Whiting—reproduced French Art Nouveau looks, but in low machine-made quality. Not surprisingly, by around 1910, Art Nouveau had reached its oversaturation point, and fashionable types were turning to the more modern, streamlined Art Deco style.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Victorian Art Nouveau Amethyst Cabochon Enamel Swag Festoon NecklacesAntique Art Nouveau Gold Filled Flower Lady Locket NecklaceGorgeous! Huge Vtg Victorian Nouveau Deco 14k Sterling Gf Jade Jewelry Lot An226Vintage French Art Nouveau Carved Celluloid Mother & Baby Bear Scene Brooch PinAntique Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Enamel Oranges & Flowers BroochAntique Brass Art Nouveau Deco Flower Huge Rhinestone Cocktail Ring 102Large Mostly As-is Vtg Antique Victorian Art Nouveau Jewelry & Parts (lot)Vtg Antique Art Deco Nouveau Jewelry (lot)Vintage 70s Original Liberty Art Nouveau Print Plastic Bangle Floral Assorted Group Lot Jewerly Cameo Art Nouveau Locket Gold Filled Watch Fobs PinsVintage Art Nouveau Gold Plated Lovely Woman Monogrammed Locket With Baby PhotoAntique Bohemian Nouveau Silver Pot Metal Cabochon Dress Sweater Clip Pin 014Vintage Art Deco / Nouveau Ornate Brass Cut Black Glass Floral Scroll Fur Clip Stunning Estate Vintage Edwardian Art Nouveau Amethyst Necklace PendantAntique Gold Tn Flower Rhinestone Art Nouveau Bohemian Brooch Dress Clip Lot 042Vintage Sterling Silver 925 Heavy Princess Lady Figural Nouveau Sz 7 Ring 089(7) Antique Victorian Art Deco Nouveau Jeweled Heart Stickpin Tie Pins #4 YqzArt Deco / Nouveau Pot Metal Enamel Aqua Sapphire Crystal Flower Leaf Brooch Pin84 Pc Victorian Antique Art Deco Nouveau Jewelry Lot Celluloid Cameo 14kgf Japan86 Pc Victorian Antique Art Deco Nouveau Jewelry Lot Cameo Carnelian Pearls AvonAntique Bronze Art Nouveau Pendant // Lady With FluteWhiting Davis Co Signed Vintage Bracelet Repousse Engraved Flower Nouveau 1140Lovely Big Vtg Victorian Nouveau Deco Glass 7 Pin 2 Necklace Jewelry Lot! St462Amazing Antique Art Nouveau Pendant Lady BronzeArt Nouveau Hat Pin Box Mixed Vintage Costume Jerwellelry Inc Brooches Fur ClipsVintage Elaborate Art Nouveau Necklace And Pendant With Amber Glass CrystalsDeco Nouveau Czech Signed Egg Yolk Yellow Brass Glass Necklace Drops DanglesVintage Art Nouveau 835 Silver Open Work Knight & Horse Flower Pendant Necklace(6) Antique Victorian Art Deco Nouveau Jeweled Floral Stickpin Tie Pins #3 YqzVintage Jewellery Silver Enamel Celtic Nouveau Type Modern Earrings Malcolm GreyVintage Large Art Nouveau Sash Pin / Brooch W/ Faceted Blue Stone Floral DesignRare Vintage Brass & Enamel Art Nouveau Dragonfly Brooch / PinAntique Nouveau Foster & Bailey Co F&b Sterling Silver Embossed Woman Head PinAntique Bronze Art Nouveau Pendant // Lady In Botanic Garden 1926Vintage Art Nouveau Necklace Amethyst Faceted Glass Genuine Pearl Dangle PendantVintage Jewellery Art Nouveau Design Marcasite Necklace (arrow Maker's Mark)(5) Antique Victorian Art Deco Nouveau Figural Animal Stickpin Tie Pins #1 YqzVintage Ring Adjustable Gold Tone Faux Pearl Glass Cabochon Engrave Nouveau 1637Antique Victorian Vintage 19th Cent Brooch Pin Rare Art Glass Nouveau 1400Vintage Bracelet Cuff Celluloid Flower Filigree Nouveau Style Bronze Tone 16054 Antique Victorian Art Deco Nouveau Enamel Luck Prayer Stickpin Tie Pins #2 YqzAntique Victorian Art Nouveau Deco Locket Dark Red Ruby Stone Gf Gold Filled F MBrand 1928 Signed Vintage Necklace Pendant Victorian Revival Flower Nouveau 1587Vintage Brooch Pin Shell Filigree Gold Tone Nouveau Leaf Tree Autumn 1441Vintage Mfa Gold Tone Hourglass Pendant On Long Chain Necklace Art Nouveau 1970sAntique/art Nouveau Round Gold Filled Repousse Locket & 22" Chain 10.7 Grams WsbVintage Art Nouveau Bow Brooch / Pin ~ 1920s EraVintage Art Nouveau Revival Faux Pearl Jelly Cabochon Panel Link BraceletVintage Large Rhinestone Amethyst Earrings - Art Nouveau StyleArt Nouveau Style Large BroochAntique Upcycled Victorian Saphiret Briolitte Sapphirine Art Nouveau Style CharmArt Nouveau Gold Filled Marked Bates & Bacon Co. Monogram " H " Locket NecklaceAntique Art Deco Nouveau Filigree Flower Topaz Rhinestone Brooch Scarf Pin 015Beautiful Art Nouveau/art Deco Crescent Moon Brooch!Vt Brooch Pin Flower Art Nouveau Enamel Cloisonne Rhinestone Crystal Gold Tone38Vintage Scatter Brooch Pin Glass Amber Cabochon Filigree Nouveau Enamel 1406Gorgeous Vintage Estate Art Nouveau Rhinestone Flower Ribbons Brooch!!! 1744lArt Nouveau Gold Filled Raised Floral Repousse Locket Necklace !!!!!!!!!!Art Nouveau Era Silver Drop Earrings Smoldering Topaz Paste Stones Vintage Jewelry*large Blue Stone*art Nouveau*clip*pendant*