Friday, March 1, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Brooch of Demantoid Garnet, Freshwater Pearls, Gold and Diamonds, 1900

Demantoid Garnet (Tsavorite), Pearls, Diamonds, Gold
United States, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This piece of jewelry was created in the United States around 1900. While English, French and Italian jewelers were more comfortable revisiting the styles of the Rococo and looking forward with abandon to the curves and scrolls of the Art Nouveau, American jewelers were markedly more cautious, knowing that American buyers were more interested in the traditional than the daring. This scrolled brooch of gold combines rococo elements with the sinuous curves of Art Nouveau. It’s a daring design for sale in the American market of the early Twentieth Century where, in the 1901 Jewlers’ Circular and Horological Review, a reviewer commented that some pieces of Art Nouveau jewelry were "more fitted for the case of the collector than for wear…"

What Americans did appreciate was the use of brightly colored gemstones. The use of green demantiod garnets (similar in color to tsavorites, but of a different chemical structure) would have scored points with American buyers, especially when combined with these luxurious pearls and beautiful diamonds.

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