by Amanda

Old world fantasies, new art methods - Art Nouveau jewellery design

Art Nouveau is like a beautiful woman, and this indisputably complex and innovative design approach has secured its place in the history of human culture through its devotion to curving and undulating lines.

The two founding fathers to this cultural love child were Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose shimmering Favrile-glass vases and stained glass lampshades were daydreams of iridescence, and René Lalique, who was a French jeweller and glassmaker.

Lalique went on to design for firms such as Boucheron, Vever and Cartier. Breathing new life into mundane historical designs, he based his work on plant, bird and insect forms, deriving all his rich and cultivating inspiration from nature and the earth. He used inexpensive materials such as enamel, ivory, glass and horn as often as he used semi-precious stones and gems.

Art Nouveau is basically recognised by the following characteristics:

  • The use of beautiful enamelling techniques and materials like opals and moonstones.
  • Smooth and sweeping lines.
  • Smooth backs to settings.
  • Common c-clasp backings.
  • No presence of copyright symbols alongside stamps.
  • Stones set into place - never glued!

Style elements and motifs that depicted Art Nouveau were strongly derived from Asian influences, and had constant reference to life all with super-imposed jewel tones.

A South African designer who emulates this movement perfectly is the famed Zoja Mihic, who moved to Paris in 2006 to complete her MBA. Through the influences of South Africa, Paris and her globetrotting, she continually evolves her designs to celebrate what can only be described as the marriage of the jewel princess and the modernist.

As complex as it may all seem, if you take away all the rambunctious design terms, exotic names and French prodigies, Art Nouveau simply means ''New Art''.

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Art Nouveau

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Art Nouveau | Designers
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