Here are some major points to remember when faced with a piece of jewelry that could be categorized either way:
- Arts and Crafts jewelry primarily used non-precious materials.
Arts and Crafts jewelry contained metals like copper, aluminum and silver. When gold was used, it was most often to enhance a design element.
In this brooch by Sibyl Dunlop, the gold is used only to highlight the intense color of the center stone.
- Design favorites harkened back to Medieval and Renaissance styles.
- Arts and Crafts pieces had a strong emphasis on the Practical, so we see a lot of belt buckles…
Arts and Crafts jewelry was characterized by Naturalistic themes - insects, flowers and leaves all enjoyed a huge popularity. In fact, leaves were such a popular design element that it is said that one of the ways to identify a specific designer was to look at the leaves. Since each designer made leaves differently and liked to use a specific leaf, you can identify makers by the leaves they made!
This ring strikes one as being completely Arts and Crafts. The ring is made of silver; it’s completely a leaf motif; and it has a bezel set, cabochon cut green chalcedony in the center.
Here is an Art Nouveau pin with bees. It’s much more realistically depicted rather than stylized.
- Arts and Crafts jewelry is highly STYLIZED.
- Art Nouveau jewelry is very theatrical. Some would say it’s “over the top.” Arts and Crafts Jewelry is simpler in design.
- Art Nouveau jewelry is HEAVILY curvilinear; Arts and Crafts pieces are straighter in line.
- Arts and Crafts stones are usually bezel or collet set rather than prong set like stones of other genres of the same period.
Stay posted for a follow up post on what those common elements are even in designers who broke the rules. I’ll take a critical look at some of the best known designers who happened to break the rules of Arts and Crafts design. I’ll explain why the designs fall into the Arts and Crafts style and why, even though it looks like Art Nouveau, the piece is really Arts and Crafts. The post will contain plenty of pictures for visual aids, so when I’m finished, you will be well on your way to identifying Arts and Crafts from Art Nouveau jewelry like a master!
If you look at the picture below and still want to scratch your head in confusion, stay posted for the next blog. You won’t be scratching your head anymore!