About 100 years ago, between WOI and WOII, a jewelry designer becomes fed up with the ruling jewelry traditions. The Art Nouveau Time is full of garlands, curls, and expensive jewelry. And this young jewelry designer, René Lalique from France wants to create a more functional piece of jewelry with geometrical shapes. The Art Deco Period is born. Meet the most popular jewelry designer of Art Deco.
What is Art Deco?
Art Deco is a popular style from 1920 until 1939 (Interbellum). This art style is not only used for art, like jewelry or paintings. It has a big influence on architecture, interior design, and clothing too. You recognize this Art Deco style by the colors and motives: like zigzags, styled elements, flowers, and natural elements. This style uses a lot of colors.
There is a style that looks like Art Deco and that one is called Art Nouveau or Jugendstil. They look a bit the same but the Art Nouveau style uses more wavy lines and asymmetric elements.
Let us look into the Art Deco jewelry style a bit deeper.
The Art Deco jewelry style knows a lot of symmetrical lines and shapes (just the opposite of the previous Art Nouveau style). It had its origin in Paris, France, in the 1920s, but at the time it was not called the Art Deco style yet. In 1966 an exhibition was organized, that referred to the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’. In plain English, that means ‘the international exhibition of decorative art and modern industry’.
That exhibition was stunning and showed the top of the fashion, and jewelry of those days in Paris. The title of the exhibition was a bit long and in 1966 they came up with the name ‘art deco’.
The jewelry of Art Deco
The jewelry was symmetric or geometric and the use of expensive gemstones was abundant. And we talk about diamonds, pearls, aquamarine, sapphire, ruby, and emerald. That was not all. You could only see mother of pearl, onyx, jadeite, chrysoprase, and coral in the pieces of jewelry. Combined with silver, white gold, and platinum (white precious metals).
The jewelry designers loved colors, like the blue of the sapphires, the red of the rubies, and the green of the emerald. Those colors should shine and made the bearer more beautiful. Special gemstone cuts were developed to accomplish that shiny effect: the baguette and the emerald cuts.
You might think about how people could afford these precious, but pricy pieces of jewelry? Well, only people who made good money from World War I could purchase this jewelry. After WWI the economy boomed, women started to work and spend more money on luxury goods, like jewelry.
There was enough money flowing around in the economy to rebuild the country after the war. But the coin fast lost value and investing in jewelry, which keeps its value, became popular. And the media showed how you could furnish your house with luxury goods, what outfits to wear and what jewelry was trendy. A fashion and jewelry designer, like Coco Chanel became famous.
Jewelry designer René Lalique is different?
Although in 1890 the jewelry designer René Lalique is one of the most important jewelry artists of that period (Art Nouveau) he stops making that style of jewelry. His new inspiration sources are flora, animal life, and female features. His designs are based on peacocks, dragonflies, flowers, and snakes.
And he uses different materials. No expensive materials and precious stones anymore, but semi-precious stones, glass, leather, and enamel. He chooses his material because of its color, shape, and luster. The design comes first and the preciousness is not important.
He is not only a jewelry designer. But also a designer of glass, like church windows and the windows of the Orient-Express. Or perfume bottles. He makes them in a kind of mass production. The ‘normal’ people can afford his designs.
The clients of the jewelry designer René Lalique
You can expect that the rich and famous of this planet stick to their diamonds and gold jewelry. But they love the jewelry of this jewelry designer. Although the material is not that expensive, his signature on the jewelry is. His jewelry is very expensive when you want to buy it at an auction at Christie’s or Sotheby’s.
Even the Dutch Queen Juliana asked the jewelry designer Lalique to design lamps for their palace. And she has to wait for about two years. He has no time to accomplish the lamps immediately, not even for a Dutch queen.
What do you think of this jewelry designer?
I met the art of the jewelry designer René Lalique for the first time in the Lalique Museum in Doesburg/The Netherlands. For months I looked forward to going and seeing all the beauties for myself. I appreciate the way this jewelry designer makes the pieces of jewelry affordable for the large public. I love his style and simplicity. But I was a bit disappointed about the finishing touch of the jewelry, not as fine as you get with gold and silver. Not as brilliant as precious stones. What do you think?
If you love jewelry from a famous or less famous jewelry designer, and gemstones you want to wear them as often as you can and like. But it is not always easy to find a good match between a gemstone and your outfit. Do you know for instance the color of a certain gemstone, and do you know that that same gemstone can occur in more colors? FlorenceJewelshop made a gemstone color chart, where you can find all the colors of the well-known gemstones so that matching with your outfit is just a piece of cake. The good thing is that this gemstone color chart is free of charge. Just let me know where I can send it to.
Hug, Florence of FlorenceJewelshop