Gold, diamonds, pearls, enamel
Property of Shai Bandmann and Ronald Ooi
René Lalique was a renowned jeweller before turning his hand to glass. Rich and famous women such as Sarah Bernhardt and Madame Meurlot-Chollet were faithful clients, and his jewellery creations gained a triumphant reception at the French salons and the 1900 Exposition Universelle.
The floral designs that characterise Lalique’s jewellery creations are typical of the Art Nouveau movement: the artists of the day were looking for new sources of inspiration, and Lalique was one of the first to bring nature to life in his art.
The plant and mineral worlds come together in this delicate diadem. Pearls evoke the white berries of the laurel tree, whilst the diamonds discreetly inserted in the yellow gold branches capture light. Rather than making them the focal point, Lalique, frequently used these precious gems to enhance the overall composition.
The dark, matt green featured on some of the branches is an effect that René Lalique frequently favoured. Almost all the jewellery he created between 1895 and 1907 featured enamel. This piece uses the champlevé technique, whereby cavities are etched into the surface of the metal and the piece is then fired. The deeper the cavities, the darker the colour of the enamel.
By the way: in Ancient Rome, victorious war leaders were crowned with a branch of laurel, the tree of Apollo. In the Middle Ages, the same honour was given to poets such as Dante or Petrarch. The term « laureate » comes from this association with victory.