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Art nouveau was an international philosophy and style design that arose in the turn of the twentieth century. The literal meaning is "new art”. The Art Nouveau movement did not span many decades (two and a half, three at the most), but its lines -- or curves, to be more accurate -- are with us still. The idea behind the movement was to get away from the Edwardian (whites and diamonds) and Arts and Crafts (blocky and solid) ways of looking at the world.
Between 1890 and 1910 it was one of the most popular forms of architecture and applied art in Europe. Many would incorporate this style into their homes, furniture, fashion, art and jewelry.
The organic forms and structures of art nouveau mirrored those found in elements like flowers, plants and curved lines. This style makes many of its references to the nature world. Some would even describe it to be fanciful and out of the ordinary.
Art nouveau was eventually replaced by the 20th century modernist style. Ever since then, there hasn't been any other style that's come close to art nouveau, especially when it comes to jewelry.