Belles of the Nouveau Epoch:

From “The Artistic and Commercial Development of the Silversmith’s Craft,” by W. Augustus Steward, Chief Instructor in Gold and Silversmithing at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London:

“…at almost the close of the century came the outburst of that peculiar style, which is known, according to country, as L’Art NouveauJugend, or ‘New Art.’ This particular form of design, which has perhaps had greater vogue in France and Germany than in Great Britain or America, much as it has been decried, has in my opinion been responsible for a considerable amount of good. It may be criticized as strongly and as persistently as one may think fit. It may be described as stringy, wormy and meaningless, but after all, it is the natural revolt following the persistent copying of styles of bygone times, a protest against a dearth of ideas. It is as a voice crying aloud in the universe for something new, something which shall exhibit a new feeling, a newer thought, and despite all its vagaries, despite its many shortcomings, no one can gainsay (deny) that this New Art is serving a definite and useful purpose.” February, 1905 Jeweller’s Circular Keystone

Jewel boxes in particular, then and today, were also called Jewel Caskets, Jewel Cases, or Trinket Boxes. They are delightful remembrances of our American past,  as richly diverse as our own American heritage, varying in style, composition, and use.  These and other items were popular palettes for the artist wishing to portray fashion and style for the American lady.


To find more information about these quaint, but beautiful art pieces, you may read about them in the first book published on the subject, THE JEWEL BOX BOOK

JEWEL BOX FINISHES  Art Metal manufacturers experimented with many finishes. Jewel caskets were electroplated with gold (sometimes called “Ormolu”), silver, and a variety of other finishes such as “French Bronze,” “Roman Gold,” “Pompeian Gold,” “French Gray,” “Parisian Silver,” and copper. About 1911, ivory finishes were introduced. These boxes were painted with enamel, then finished with various oxides, resulting in “Old Ivory,” “Oriental Ivory,” and “Tinted Ivory.” Ivory enamel finished boxes were advertised as “more lasting than gold- or silver-plated boxes” and, in fact, they were.