The graphic, stylized aesthetic of Arts and Crafts lends itself beautifully to fine jewelry. Rings, pendants, and brooches are small, so their designs need to communicate themselves quickly. That’s why simple motifs such as flower petals and leaves work so well—they can double as naturalistic shapes that are appealing in their own right, as well as armatures for decoration, whether filled in with enamel or hammered to create surface patterns.
In England, the self-taught silversmith C. R. Ashbee, who established the Guild of Handicraft in 1888, used only a handful of elements to create his famous butterfly brooch, which was also available as a necklace. In his rendition, the insect’s blue enamel wings were complemented by dangling turquoise stones set within silver bands and suspended from silver chains. Ashbee inspired a generation of English Arts and Crafts jewelers, including Archibald Knox, who did some of his best work for the department store Liberty & Co., whose success in popularizing Arts and Crafts and, later, Art Nouveau styles eventually put Ashbee’s idealistic Guild out of business.
On the other side of the Atlantic, American jewelers produced handmade pieces using silver, semi-precious stones, and pearls. Boston-based Frank Gardner Hale, a protege of Ashbee, taught what he knew to Edward E. Oakes, who frequently worked with gold. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Clara Barck Welles and a handful of other female designers established the Kalo Shop, some of whose silver bracelets, belt buckles, and dress clips seemed to anticipate the tight geometric order of Art Deco.
Another Arts and Crafts jeweler of note from the early 20th century was Theodor Fahrner of Pforzheim, Germany. Inspired by the German and Austrian movement known as Jugenstil, Fahrner designed his geometric pieces for the masses, selling them at Liberty & Co. and Murrle Bennett & Co., both of London. Other important European designers of the era included Heinrich Levinger, Josef Hoffmann, and Kay Bojesen.