Art Nouveau Design Houses

Art Nouveau Design Houses

Here is an overview of four prominent Art Nouveau jewelry design houses:

LALIQUE, PARIS

1888 until present

Founded by Lalique, Rene (1860-1945)

Probably the most famous Art Nouveau Designer of all, Lalique’s jewelry designs are renowned for their delicate plique-à-jour enamel work and use of the female form.

Rene Lalique also sold designs to the great jewelry houses of Boucheron, Cartier and Verver.

 

KOCH, GERMANY 1879-1987
FOUNDED BY ROBERT AND LOUIS KOCH.

In 1883 Koch received the title of ‘Jeweler of the court’ and worked for European Royal families such as the Czar of Russia or the King of Italy.

VEVER, FRANCE, 1821 – PRESENT

Founded by Pierre Vever (1795 – 1853)

Known for fine, gem-set Art Nouveau jewelry and hair combs. One of Vever’s most famous designers was Eugene Grasset (1841-1917).

Henri Vever “La Bretonne” Pendant, circa 1900. Lang’s Jewelry University. 

FOUQUET, FRANCE, 1852-1936.

Founded by Alphonse Fouquet and taken over by his son, Georges Fouquet in 1895.

Known for naturalistic and sensuous Art Nouveau styles.

The company worked with the renowned artists and designers Charles Desrosiers, Alphonse Mucha and Etienne Tourette.

Fouquet Abalone Pearl and Plique-á-Jour Enamel Brooch with Chatelaine, 1901.
Photo Courtesy of Christie’s.

 

Sources / Further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lalique

http://www.lalique.com/en?gclid=CPCusPvp-9ICFRdmGwod7lMFGQ

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plique-à-jour

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Myrtle Bridal Tiaras

Myrtle Bridal Tiaras

“A plant of immortality, myrtle was an emblem of love and desire; poets, especially love poets, were crowned with it, and doorposts were wreathed with myrtle in nuptial celebrations.” – Deirdre Larkin, The Art of Illumination. 

The tradition of wearing myrtle headpieces for weddings dates back to ancient times. Myrtle was revered by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews and myrtle wedding garlands were popular throughout medieval Europe. The practise experienced a renaissance during the Victorian and Edwardian eras with the Naturalistic Movements and, later, the Art Nouveau Movement. With the explosion in romanticism, finely crafted myrtle tiaras and corsages became an established and widespread tradition throughout Europe, particularly Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Myrtle has long been considered to be Aphrodite’s flower and a symbol of devoted love. It is also considered to be the chosen flower of Venus. The Three Graces are frequently depicted wearing myrtle flower crowns. The ancient Greeks and Romans bathed in myrtle scented waters, often when preparing for marriage. The ancient Hebrews associated myrtle with romantic love, procreation and marriage.

The sweet scent of myrtle is thought by many to be the very fragrance of romance itself.  It is a symbol of devotion and fidelity. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, myrtles’s simple and enduring meaning is ‘love and marriage’.  In English tradition, a marriage is said to always follow after the myrtle blooms. In Wales, the traditional gift for a bridesmaid was a sprig of myrtle.

 

Fabric Myrtle Tiaras

In Germany and Austria, delicately made waxed fabric myrtle and leaf garlands were the most frequent choice for weddings. Tiny green leaves, interspersed with delicate white flowers, are arranged by hand on a pliable wooden or waxed card framework. Here at Elder and Bloom, we refer to these treasures as ‘Woodland Garlands’. They are popular with brides wanting a bohemian, natural or outdoor woodland themed wedding whilst simultaneously honouring history.

 

Silver Myrtle Tiaras

The intricately made silver myrtle tiaras were worn to celebrate a couple’s 25th anniversary. (In Germany this was known as the ‘Silber Hochzeit’.) Usually these are made from a base metal or low karat silver alloy or sometimes silver plated brass or other alloy. More rarely, we will find one of these tiaras made from real 800 silver, sometimes stamped by the jeweller. They nearly always come with a matching boutonnière or corsage for the groom to wear. Sometimes they come with two corsages, one for the bride and one for the groom. Today, they are worn by discerning brides seeking meaning, rarity and beauty.

Golden Myrtle Tiaras

Golden versions, usually created from gilded base metal and sometimes from gilded 800 silver, are even rarer. These were worn for the fiftieth anniversary (in German, the Goldene Hochzeit), again with matching boutonnière for the groom. These create a stunning and remarkable accessory for a modern bride, with  additional depth of meaning as they were worn to celebrate truly enduring marriages.

 

Other Myrtle Tiaras

Other versions of myrtle tiaras were made from finely crafted silver or gold paper or possibly green paper leaves with delicately crafted white flowers. Wax versions were popular, especially in France. Sometimes, myrtle crowns can be found combined with a rose motif (another symbol of love and passion) or with a daisy motif (the daisy has long been associated with purity and innocence and is therefore appropriate for bridal wear). Just once, I was lucky enough to find a myrtle crown adorned with small gems.

 

Additional Information

Myrtle Crowns are often found framed with commemorative satin hearts, photos or gilded memorabilia, showing the dates and names of the wedding couple. At other times, they are found in small glass presentation domes on a quilted, satin base. Examples from the Art Deco era are sometimes found in hinged presentation boxes. Earlier examples can be found in round cardboard boxes, sometimes with the name of the original jewellers stamped on the bottom.

The earlier examples of these crowns were hand-wrought and the later versions were, although mass produced, still exquisitely crafted. These rare tiaras have proven very popular with contemporary brides and collectors drawn to the elegance, fineness and mystery. Valued for their heirloom qualities, they are sought after by those wanting to honour their European heritages. For a bride, they fulfil the requirement to wear something ‘old’ and create a talking point that fascinates their wedding guests.

I have been collecting and selling these exquisite pieces for many years. It brings me great joy to seek them out and then pass them on to enthusiastic customers. The beauty and craftsmanship of these historic pieces never ceases to amaze me.

To be put on the waiting list for the next available crown, please contact me at pippa@elderandbloom.com

Be sure to look through the ‘Galleries’ to see more examples of these crowns.

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Further reading / resources: 

http://www.nprberlin.de/term/pippa-anais-gaubert#stream/0

https://blog.etsy.com/en/short-stories-antique-german-wedding-tiara/

http://www.happinessisblog.com/happiness-is/2013/03/my-wedding-10-getting-ready.html

http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article008.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kate-middleton-picks-flowers-with-special-125087

http://www.victoriana.com/victorianwedding/weddingbouquet.html

the three graces

Key Jewellery Looks by Decade

Key Jewellery Looks by Decade

Here is an overview of the key jewellery looks of the first six decades of the 20th century.

1900-1909

These years saw the continued explosion in the Art Nouveau Movement in all its forms. The styles evoked femininity, mystery, nature and were an homage to an imagined pre-industrial Eden of the past.

SEMIPRECIOUS STONES

Semiprecious stones such as opals, moonstones, turquoise, baroque pearls etc took a central place as the beauty of the piece was not necessarily defined by the agreed value of the materials.

ENAMEL WORK

Enamel work became prominent as the focus on artistry and craftsmanship dominated.

BIJOUTERIE

Bijouterie can be described as a piece valued for the delicacy of its design as opposed to the value of its materials. These more intricate pieces became prevalent as design took dominance over ostentatious displays.

NATURE THEMES

Nature themes were popular as people sought to connect with the simplicity and beauty of the pre-industrial era.

CELTIC MOTIFS

Celtic motifs were also popular as people romanticised  heritage and history in a rejection of the rapidly exploding modernity of the Western world.

THE FEMALE FORM

The  female form and visage became one of the eras most iconic motifs as a craving for femininity emerged as a response to the increasing mechanisation of society.

THE WHIPLASH MOTIF

The whiplash motif was a signature motif of this decade.

1910-1919

These years saw an emergence of elegance and a focus on gentile refinement. There was an emphasis on evening wear along with an adulation of aristocracy and nostalgia for the hey days of the fine royal courts of Europe, in particular Versailles.

THE LAVALIER

The lavalier became a popular item as the beauty of the décolleté was emphasised.

BANDEAUS AND AIGRETTES

Inspired by the natives of the New World,  bandeaus and aigrettes started to become popular (this fashion exploded in the 1920s)

BOWS AND SWAGS

Hearkening back to Rococo and Baroque design, bows and swags became recurrent motifs.

TIARAS AND HEADPIECES

Inspired by the glamorous royal courts of Europe, tiaras and headpieces became popular evening wear.

GARLAND NECKLACE

The garland necklace was popular as the beauty of the décolleté, neck and shoulder was focused upon.

COLLIERS DE CHIEN

Princess Alexander popularised this iconic style.

CAMEOS

The migration of many Italian cameo artists saw the popular emergence of cameos across Europe and the USA.

WHITE ON WHITE

White metals with white stones were the height of fashion with the emphasis on evening refinement and the desire to wear jewels that looked amazing by candle light (also inspired by the new vogue for luxury cruises.)

1920-1929

This decade saw the emergence of a new boyish and chic look.  Jewellery became streamlined, youthful, forward looking, minimalist, light and lean.

BANGLES AND CUFF BRACELETS

With the craze for dancing it was important to wear items with movement.

EGYPTIAN AND ETHNIC MOTIFS

The architectural discoveries of these years saw an emergence of revivalist motifs, as well as an idealisation for the styles of foreign lands as the European empires expanded.

FAN, CHEVRON, GEOMETRIC AND THE MACHINE AESTHETIC

With mechanisation and modernity there came an emphasis on machine-inspired designs.

VENETIAN GLASS AND CRYSTAL BEADS

As long sautoir necklaces became popular (perfectly for twirling while dancing), the artistry of venetian glass and the beauty of crystal was revered.

MACHINE CUT GEMSTONES

Gemstones were now cut by machine for the most part, rather than cut by hand.

TASSELS

There was a craze for tassel earrings and tassel necklaces and the movement they brought with them while dancing the latest dance crazes.

1930S

This decade brought the glamour and dram of the silent screen and black and white movies into the forefront of popular culture.

DIAMONDS

Diamonds became the most sought after gem, popularised by the silent screen actresses who wore them for their ability to sparkle on the screen.

STEPPED, CHEVRON AND CIRCLE MOTIFS

The continued fashion for modernism saw an emphasis on geometric, architectural and non-organic motifs.

FILIGREE SETTINGS

Filigree settings, particularly using white metals, became popular in this decade.

FLORAL MOTIFS

The simplicity and girlishness of floral motifs became prevalent.

DRESS CLIPS

Dress clips became the height of fashion

WHITE ON WHITE

The fashion for all white jewellery continued.

DIME STORE DECO

Dime stores sold inexpensive costume jewellery which made style available to everyone. These pieces became known as ‘dime store deco.’

COSTUME

The silver screen saw an emphasis on increasingly flashy costume pieces.

1940S

The austerity of the war years brought about a creative explosion in costume jewellery which made personal decor more accessible. It was not worn to display wealth but more as an expression of fun and levity, in contrast to the serious times.

RHINESTONES

Rhinestones became a popular and accessible stand-in for diamonds.

METAL AND WOOD

The scarcity of precious metals saw an explosion in creativity using readily available materials such as base metal and wood.

SURREALISM

The new surrealist art movements of Europe overlapped into the world of jewellery design.

PATRIOTIC PINS

It became de rigueur for every woman to wear a display of patriotism.

JELLY BELLY

These were pins with a rounded, polished lucite middle. Pioneered by Trifari in the 1930s but made popular by the head designer, Alfred Philippe, in the 1940s.

FLORAL MOTIFS

Floral motifs continued in popularity.

VERMEIL

Vermeil became popular as a replacement for solid gold.

STERLING SILVER

Sterling silver saw a surge in popularity as gold was less available.

BAKELITE AND OTHER PLASTICS

This decade saw a greater use of bakelite and other early plastics.

1950S

After the end of the Second World War, there was a return to the display of wealth. The love of sparkle and luxury returned with force but there was a retention of the fun and creative sensibilities of the previous decade.

FLORAL AND NATURAL THEMES

These motifs remained popular.

CHANDELIER EARRINGS

This glamorous style of earring became all the rage.

SCANDINAVIAN MODERN

The streamlined modernity of ‘Scandinavian Modern’ became sought after.

TEXTURED GOLD

Textured gold became fashionable.

BEADS AND PEARLS

GIs returning from Japan brought home strings of cultured pearls to their sweethearts and a string of pearls or other beads around the neck (usually in princess length) became standard.

FIGURATIVE BROOCHES

Artistry and fun was expressed through the fashion for figurative brooches.

COPPER JEWELLERY

Copper became a new innovative material to work with as a replacement for gold.

CHARM BRACELETS

Charm bracelets became an item every woman had to have.

PARURES

Perhaps as a symptom of nostalgia for the now long-gone Victoria era, parures (complete sets of matching jewellery) grew in popularity.

Further reading:

https://www.elderandbloom.com/articles/2017/1/5/getting-clear-on-antique-and-vintage-eras-and-terms

https://www.elderandbloom.com/articles/2017/1/6/art-deco-motifs

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Aesthetic Period (1885-1901)

Sarah Bernhardt as Cléopatre. Circa 1899.

″Art for art’s sake,″ – Theophile Gautier

The Late Victorian era (1885-1901) is also referred to as the ‘Aesthetic Period’.  It was an era which was defined by its rejection of conservatism, of tradition and of all things repressive.  It was a time of great change in the world of art, fashion and design.  William Morris and The Arts and Crafts Movement (1894-1923)  became hugely influential and there was a revival of all things Medieval and fairy-tale like.  Art Nouveau (1890-1914)  began to emerge during this era.  Art Nouveau was truly a revolutionary design movement, perhaps the most radically new design movement there has ever been.  Japanese design emerged as an extremely strong influence, and there was a new design movement which is referred to as the ‘Aesthetic Movement’ which, in jewelry, is characterized by engraved birds, bamboo and minimal design, usually worked on silver.  Overall, there was an explosion of optimism, of creativity and of a new frivolity which, if it had existed previously, had been repressed and under the surface.

Brooch

England, c. 1900
Ashbee
Brooch, silver and gold with blister pearl, garnet and diamond
V&A Museum

Decorative hair ornamentation, particularly combs, were the order of the day, as these went with the new uplifted hairdos.  Women were now riding bicycles, so purses, glasses and watches were worn on long chains to keep the hands free. Whistle bracelets were also popular for ladies who rose bicycles, so they could summon help from a long distance.

Comb

England, c.1900
Wilson
Comb, silver, garnets
V&A Museum

In general, the taste in jewelry became much less ostentatious and diamonds and other showy gemstones were considered only appropriate for evening occasions.  During the day, women dressed and adorned themselves much more simply, youthfully and altogether with less fuss. Jewelry, when it was worn, became much lighter and smaller.  At the same time as this movement towards naturalness, there was a definite swing towards an emphasis of beauty over utilitarianism. Dresses were simpler and made with lighter fabric and would not support heavy jewels.  Stick pins, stud earrings and tiny chain purses became fashionable. The taste in colors shifted towards lighter and more pastel tones. Sensuality, femininity and subtlety were the prevalent flavors. Some popular motifs included shamrocks, hearts, stars and knots.  Bows were still popular. Novelty motifs were extremely popular, particularly birds and insects. A revival of Ancient Egyptian and traditional Indian jewelry styles also emerged.

A late 19th century tiger's eye quartz, diamond and onyx bee brooch

A late 19th century tiger’s eye quartz, diamond and onyx bee brooch
Christie’s Sale 6423

Brooch

England, c. 1890
Brooch, gold, enamel, ivory, citrine.
V&A Museum

Although Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau style jewelry were both very popular, there was still a broad taste for more conventional styles.  Diamonds, although not considered proper for day time wear, were still preferred for special evening occasions, particularly set in tiaras and rivières. Old mine cuts, cushion cuts and rose cut stones were the most frequently used. Stones were set with less metal and with more emphasis on the gem itself.  Platinum began to emerge as a popular metal.  Other gems apart from diamonds became more popular during the years of the Boer War (1899-1902). There was an emphasis on cabochon cut gems; opals, amethysts and emeralds were particularly popular.

A late 19th century diamond brooch  Diamond Brooch, Late Victorian, Christie’s

A Star Sapphire and Diamond Brooch, Late Victorian.

Christie’s Sale 6968

A late 19th century coral brooch and earring suite

A late 19th century coral brooch and earring suite
Christies, Lot 6704

Sources / further reading: http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Aesthetic_Period_1885-1901 http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/mar/26/aestheticism-exhibition-victoria-albert-museum http://www.silvermagpies.com/2011/07/20/vintage-silver-of-the-aesthetic-period/ http://suite101.com/article/va-exhibition—the-cult-of-beauty—the-aesthetic-movement-a362629