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Diamond Earrings
Arts and Crafts

The Arts and Crafts movement was a transitional period between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. You can often see elements of both styles in a single piece of jewelry. Arts & Crafts was more than just a design style; it was a political and philosophical movement. Devotees of this art form interested themselves in social reform and individual rights. The style was a revolt against new technology they felt was destroying craftsmanship. It was their view that the imperfections and inconsistencies of hand-made pieces increased the beauty of a piece. The overall design was of primary importance, any stones or precious metals used were secondary. Designs were generally taken from nature and were often made to be abstract or symbolic. In metal-worked pieces, the craftsman would sometimes hammer the silver to heighten the hand-made look.

The "Rational Dress Association" (a group that wanted to make women's dress more practical and comfortable with divided skirts, shorter lengths and greater ease of movement) was an important influence on jewelry makers. "Artistic" women who espoused this look were a source of great amusement to a certain writers and cartoonists. They didn't wear hoops, bustles, or tight corsets - preferring simpler garments.

The Pre-Raphaelite artists were another major influence on Arts & Crafts jewelry designs. Painters like Rossetti, Hunt, and Millais would sometimes have specific items of jewelry created in order to figure them prominently in their paintings. Horner, Liberty and Ashbee are renowned names from this era.

In Arts and Crafts jewelry, cabochon cuts were preferred over faceted stones and Silver was the preferred metal over gold. As with Art Nouveau jewelry, "humble" materials, like brass and copper, were valued and used to create jewelry. Enamel continued its popularity in this era, but in simpler, less flowing lines than Art nouveau examples.

A beautiful style that's hard to place in a specific category is Renaissance Revival. While the artistic style could be thought of as Art Nouveau, the style of manufacture fits with Arts & Crafts concepts of workmanship. It's hand-made, completely different from the abundance of machine-made, mass-produced jewelry from the same time period.

Because these pieces weren't to be mass-produced, Arts & Crafts jewelry was expensive and it, like Art Nouveau styles, soon fell out of fashion. But the geometrical simple styles of Arts & Crafts jewelry hinted at the further streamlining that would be evident the Art Deco period.