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In the beginning of XXth century wealthy and privileged class of society continued to wear lavish quantities of formal diamond jewelry. The designs were inspired by the fashions of Louis XVI and the First Empire. In artistic circles people preferred colorful and enameled jewelry. Rest of jewelry enthusiasts chose traditional handmade crafts which were also a reaction against mechanization.
Throughout Europe jewelers took different elements from each style to create over lapping national styles. Many chose semi-precious and non-precious materials for their color and texture in preference to more valuable materials. Luxurious jewelry was almost entirely white, based on lavish use of diamonds and pearls. Early XXth century was a time when one of the most famous jewelers started to create his designs under Cartier brand.
Small brooches were worn scattered all over the bodice with different fittings allover hair. Jeweled hair accessories remained an important part of court and society dress in Europe and in America. Queen Alexandra introduced broad choker fitting closely around neck, which became the most fashionable accessory chose by women in early XXth century. Also pearls were immensely fashionable and remained extremely costly. Kokichi Mikimoto of Japan was the first to introduce cultured pearls. Today pearl jewelry from Mikimoto jewelers can cost up to 1 million dollars.
In Russia Peter Carl Faberge had taken charge of his father’s firm in Saint Petersburg and started building his prestige throughout Russian creating magnificent and unique pieces of art jewelry like the series of Easter eggs ordered each year from 1885 until 1917 by Russian Tsar. During these years his jewelry business became the largest in the world, with and extensive workforce of designers and craftsmen.
The Art Nouveau movement has left subtlety and delicacy in jewelry designs to bring extravagant swirling lines and rounded forms. Sensuality was a dominant force and images from nature were endowed with a romantic dreaminess, melancholy and wildness of nature. Art Nouveau jewelry often featured sophisticated enamel work achieved with impressive plique-a-jour technique where delicate stained-glass effect was created without a metal backplate. The Art Nouveau style flourished throughout Europe and America. The finest jewelry was made by the most famous jewelers including Cartier and Tiffany.
Artistic jewelry became very popular even influencing fashion. Artistic trend featured hand-beaten metal surfaces, soft-colored cabochon stones, enamel work, and a preference for decorative themes from a romanticized pre-industrial past.