If you and your partner have a fondness for the history and character of vintage engagement rings, then the highly creative era of the Art Nouveau period, with its themes of nature, fantasy and the female form, is well worth your attention.
This era, which began in the late Victorian period and lasted through to the Edwardian Age, originally developed from the Arts and Crafts movement. The distinct style of these vintage engagement rings were defined by their flowing symmetry, circular swirls and loops and very feminine designs. The predominant motif was the free-flowing line which was used to suggest movement and express an interpretation of the shapes and line found in plants, as well as a woman’s hair and feminine curves.
This era represented quite a contrast to the Victorian period, especially given that the Victorians viewed the decorative use of the female figure and face as objectionable. Art Nouveau jewellers, on the other hand, revelled in the idea that the female form could be combined with great effect with elements of the natural world, such as butterfly wings. Even the classic Victorian serpent was reinterpreted to fit the Art Nouveau theme of flowing movement.
Art Nouveau jewellers were also revolutionary when it came to their choice and use of mediums; gold and silver were manipulated to portray a previously unseen softness, which was complimented by the use of gemstones like opal and moonstone. Horn, bone and ivory were also popular as they could easily be sculptured into a free flowing line. Platinum also made its first appearance during this artistic period, and the metal, along with white gold, quickly became a preferred material with jewellers.
Many vintage engagement rings from this era were recognised for their brightly coloured enamels and stained-glass appearance which were the result of a revival of an old jewellery technique known as plique-à-jour. While pearls were the most popular gemstone in Art Nouveau jewellery, they were closely followed by colourful gemstones such as tourmaline, garnet, emerald, ruby and moonstone. Diamonds, on the other hand, were hardly ever the central feature of Art Nouveau engagement rings, but were instead often used as accents around the central gem, so bear this in mind when considering this rich era.
As always, when shopping for vintage engagement rings you should exercise caution, as the beautiful and creatively rich designs of the Art Nouveau period have long been high in demand. As a result of this popularity, there are a lot of replicas in the market, and it is recommended that buyers direct their attention to specialised retailers with reliable reputations.
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