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Art Nouveau

The Era

Art Nouveau translates literally from French as “New Art”, and can be seen as a backlash against the rampant industrialism and strict social conventions of the Victorian period. The style flourished from 1890 to 1920, drawing inspiration from forms and structures found in nature, and is typically regarded as a Total Art style – encompassing everything from architecture, graphic art, and interior design, to the decorative arts such as jewellery, textiles and furniture. It is characterised by flowing curves and elegant lines, with an emphasis on flowers, birds, and the female form. In jewellery, big diamond statement pieces became less common with more emphasis on vitreous enamelling and new and unusual gemstones such as opal, aquamarine, agates, and other semi-precious stones. This was not only a movement away from Victorian industry and technology, but was intended to make jewellery more affordable for everyone.