The Allure of Art Nouveau Jewelry
By Stephanie Dore
Art Nouveau jewelry is really all about soft, soft, soft. The female body, the florals, the major curves. What’s not to love? Think pale gems and sweeping lines, tiny details that glow under moonlight…okay so we’re waxing a bit poetic here. But really, Art Nouveau heavily influenced all twentieth century art, including jewelry. Yes, it’s an art! And you can 100% find it in all its modern glory with delicate details and nature-inspired engagement rings. Here’s a quick little guide to making your Art Nouveau jewelry dreams come true.
On the heels of the Victorian era and heavy industrialization, the Art Nouveau design period came to life in France between the late 1800s and early 1900s, before the first world war. Not only did Art Nouveau react to and against industrialization and mass production with an emphasis on artisanal craft, but it also paved the way for the avant-garde art movements that followed in its twentieth-century footsteps. But what exactly did Art Nouveau look like? Curves, baby, all curves. Really tho, the period is distinctly associated with the female form — you’ll find nude lounging ladies, mermaids, medusas, dancers — along with Japanese-influenced florals and mother nature in general. Think orchids and butterflies, curving lilies and flowing locks.
Art Nouveau jewelry also swerved away from focusing on massive diamonds with functional settings and traditionalist style choices in favor of emphasizing detailed metalwork. You’ll find its characteristically intricate settings full of fine filigree — tiny wire work — and milgrain, along with translucent enamel reminiscent of stained glass and semi-precious gemstones like amethyst, citrine and aquamarine. The colors of Art Nouveau reflected nature, favoring soft pastels instead of rich jewel tones.
Nouveau Gallery Show
Now, if you go all out with the Art Nouveau style, it’s going to look dated. Which is fine if you’re into that all vintage all the time thing. But if you’re looking for a way to incorporate just a hint of the style in your otherwise modern jewelry wardrobe — or perhaps you’re trying to pop the question with an Art Nouveau-influenced engagement ring — then there are a few fun ways to do so. One of our faves? The gallery. A ring gallery is basically the side of the stone setting, the metal work that elevates your shining diamond for all to see. And it’s a great place to play with styles. Go Art Nouveau with sweeping floral gallery details, curvy lines, and delicate filigree. A three-stone ring will give you lots of space to play with a larger gallery, so we say go all out!
Art Nouveau Jewelry Season
Adding an airy, open feel to your engagement ring is another way to incorporate an Art Nouveau feel. Instead of the heavy, functional metalwork and super sleek lines of other eras, Art Nouveau is all about lighting up. Go for a floating halo, a floral surround, a starburst look, or open filigree shoulders. Think of interesting ways to incorporate negative space in your design — perhaps a split shank? We loooove those. Or play with the space between your engagement ring and a curved or pointed wedding band to achieve the look with multiple rings!
Color Me Yours
Like we said up top, Art Nouveau incorporated lots of soft pastels and natural shades. This is a super gorg way to get a unique look for your engagement ring. Yes, we said color! Engagement rings certainly don’t have to be all diamond everything. Try adding some colorful accents with a cluster of pastel gems, an ombre effect created from pretty green and blue sapphires, a sweep of purple. You can even pull a switcheroo and make the colored gem or fancy color diamond your center stone, with white diamond accents!
Whereas modern rings tend to be all about a big ol’ diamond center stone, you can play up the Art Nouveau influence by simply steering smaller and multiplying your stones. The era’s jewelry was characterized by using stones as a design element rather than the main focus. So you’ll find rings with three or more stones set within larger metalwork, as the center of some pretty floral designs, or even just small diamonds scattered along a golden scroll line. You can make this modern with a three-stone style ring. Add that flowing gallery detail, or set your three stones vertically to achieve an elongated look. Surround your three-stone with sweeping metal details, or even a halo!
Drop It Like It’s Hot
Art Nouveau jewelry goes way beyond engagement rings of course, and one of the most popular elements of the era’s designs is the drop. As in the teardrop jewel. Popular in pendants and earrings of the time, you’ll often see pear shaped gemstones or shimmering pearls dangling freely from larger graphic elements like a major floral or delicate fairy. This final little kiss is reminiscent of dewdrops clinging to the grass, and it’s a perfect element to make a modern style sing Art Nouveau with ease. Think — a sleek diamond hoop earring with a glimmering pearl drop. Or a modern diamond pendant dangling just so. To die for.
Want to create your own Art Nouveau inspired engagement ring? Start with our design quiz to customize your style, complete with diamonds and gemstones. You’ll even get a free sketch! Or reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with your style inspo and a bit about your budget and our designers will get you sorted. Keep in mind that we recommend a minimum of 6 weeks to create a custom design — if you’re planning to pop the question at a specific time.