René Lalique was the most famous jeweler of the "Belle Epoque". His mermaid brooches, lilac combs, beetle bracelets, some more spectacular than others, tell a fascinating story of refinement and ingenuity.
Influenced by the symbolistic universe, Japaneseism, and Eclecticism that prevailed in the art of the time, René Lalique transformed his jewelry pieces into works of art that fascinated the world's elite.
Even today, they have not lost their charm and brilliance and continue to be a source of inspiration for other jewelry designers.
The Brilliance of René Lalique's Jewelry
Alongside the classical materials of the time, such as gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, and precious stones, the "Art Nouveau" master artisan also liked to use ivory, along with onyx, jade, opal, agate, cornelian, moonstone, aquamarine or coral. Most of his pieces were inspired by nature.
According to Cotidianul, his gaze fell on the flora and insects of his childhood fields as he roamed the Champagne plain with his grandfather during the holidays.
In René Lalique's jewelry, we see the curves and the sensuality of "Art Nouveau", but also the influence of Japanese art. Female figures obsessively appear in his creations. His wife, Augustine-Alice Ledru, can be recognized on the graceful profiles of brooches or pendants.
Fatal or angelic, the women who inspired his jewelry are in the form of nymphs, sylphs, with helmets and armor. Their bodies metamorphose into orchids, peacocks, and dragonflies.
Lalique liked to play with the correspondences between the feminine universe and the vegetable or animal kingdom. His imagination pushed him to reevaluate forgotten ornaments, such as bodice ornaments whose motifs emphasized necklines or tiaras, with aggressive motifs, such as the heads of a rooster or a viper.
He sculpted the horn with technical perfection and masterfully colored the enamel to make transparent dragonfly wings. Moreover, he let the light filter through, as in a stained glass window. He was truly a brilliant artist with unique talents.
The famous French designer created fabulous tiaras, combs, brooches, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and belts.
René Lalique's Famous Clientele
Important people such as Liane de Pougy, Mrs. Waldeck-Rousseau, or the actress Sarah Bernhardt were Lalique jewelry pieces.
The famous collector and oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian considered the necklaces and pendants so beautiful that he displayed them, like works of art, in shop windows in his Parisian residence.
At the 1889 Exhibition, Lalique jewelry represented the prestigious "Boucheron" and "Vever" Houses. His true consecration comes with the 1900 World's Fair.
Personalities from the theatrical universe, but also from the political world became more and more interested in his creations.
Although some of Lalique's jewelry pieces are not made out of expensive materials, they sell for very high prices. Many pieces are rich in enamel and crafted with excellent technique. The artistic work is the one that sets the price of the jewelry, which is beyond its intrinsic value.
There are still a few works signed by him in circulation today, but they are very rare and sought after by jewelry collectors around the world.