Historians assert that this artistic revival was an insurgent response to The Great Exhibition of 1851, the apex of glorified mechanization, epitomized by the Royal Society of Arts’ concentration on mechanized innovations. The Arts & Crafts movement deviated from the melancholy, somber era of mourning jewelry, invigorating and diffusing a revival of individual craftsmanship. Inspiration renewed with verdant floral and foliate subject matter, insects and shells, accentuated by curved lineation and twisting contours. The guild of craftsman spoke a language of practicality, common pieces produced being that of belt buckles, hair ornaments, brooches, or other items of utility. One notable aspect of the Arts & Crafts Movement is the sparsity of precious materials. Metals like copper, aluminum and silver were most common, with gold scantily used, as an ornamental highlight.
The Arts & Crafts movement is both chronologically and aesthetically kindred to Art Nouveau but a few subtle disparities can help discern the two. Arts & Crafts jewelry is more simplistic, compared to the elaborate, stratified detailing of Art Nouveau pieces that produce highly ornate curvature. Accordingly, while both movements share organic, nature oriented motifs, Arts & Crafts jewelry renders less realistic, more caricatural portrayals of these subjects.
The Arts & Crafts jewelry style is characterized by an abundance of motley enamels, cabochon cut gems, pearls, and other non-precious materials like moonstone, amethyst, garnet, turquoise, opal, copper, aluminum and silver.