Belle Epoque (1880 - 1915) is an Era of Beautiful Jewellery Creation

French for “Beautiful Age”, Belle Époque era (1880- 1915) saluted the a period of prosperity, opulence, peace, as well as creativity & talent in art, including jewellery design & making.

Jewellery pieces from that era are highly prized & very sought after treasures nowadays.


The era of creative evolution encompassed three periods: Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts movement and Edwardian period.



Art-Nouveau Jewellery


Commenced in approximately 1895, Art-Nouveau ("New Art") period was relatively brief, ending in 1905, yet quite prolific. It was inspired & hugely influenced by Arts & Crafted Movement (originated in 1880's).


Art Nouveau jewellers were focused on naturalistic subjects, like flowers, insects, animals. Asymmetrical patterns & foliate motifs were popular, similar to this Antique 9K Gold Finely Embossed Locket:



Often described as "botanical", "romantic" & "mystical" jewellery of that period featured undulating curves & subtle colours with jewellers placing more emphasis on settings.


Here's a prime example of Art-Nouveau 15K Gold, Amethyst & Seed Pearl Brooch:


This piece dates back to circa 1905 & survived in remarkably great condition.


~~~


Jewellers were experimenting with different enamelling techniques, with main ones being:

  • Cloisonné - enamel was applied into metal walls "cloisonnés", with backing.

  • Basse-taille - characterised by a low-relief pattern (often translucent) on metal, by carving, engraving, stamping, or engine-turning.

  • Plique-a-jour - reminiscent of stained glass windows, with no backing.

  • Champlevé – the surface of the metal is cut away to form a recess, that's filled with enamel.

  • Guilloché is a decorative technique in which a repetitive pattern is mechanically engraved into metal.


Here's a fine example of Fleur-de-Lis Belle-Epoque Blue Guilloché Enamel, 9K Rose Gold Seed Pearl Pendant:




Arts & Crafts Movement


Arts and Crafts movement was all about handcrafted jewellery, with simple designs & basic materials (semi-precious gems, non-precious metals & enamel) & it covered a period of 20 years - from 1890 to 1910.


This movement was a direct backlash to the mechanical & industrial (often crude) output during those days.


During 1880's several Art Schools were founded to teach theory & practical application of techniques (engraving, enamelling, silversmithing) & quite a few workshops & jewellery shops opened across UK & Europe. Some of the renowned names were: H. Wilson, J. Cooper, H. Murphy, A. Fisher, the Gaskins, A. Knox.