What did Renoir-Matisse jewellery ever do for us?
The exclusivity of Renoir-Matisse jewellery largely stems from the fact it was produced across only 18 years; production began in 1946 and ceased in 1964. As it was mostly made from copper and enamel, it was an affordable form of costume jewellery and so ideal for the post-war climate. Stylistically, it’s inspired by the arts and crafts movement, and largely characterised by floral or geometric designs. Often, it incorporates both in a single piece. So, that said, what are its main legacies in modern jewellery?
Cheaper, but still cheerful
Frugality was key in the economic uncertainty and rationing of the post-Second World War years. Many of us haven’t quite reverted to the lavishness and easy spending seen in the ‘20s, and so the idea of costume jewellery popularised with the help of Renoir-Matisse’s Jerry Fels is still firmly at the forefront of the jewellery industry. The geometric influences can also be seen in many a plastic and stainless steel variation at every store on the high street today.
Thick bangles and weighty statement pieces are still very much in vogue, as are the bright colours seen in many Renoir-Matisse works. The size also lends itself to the quirkier, elaborate designs favoured by the design house, and many modern pieces have fun with their more substantial canvases very much in the same way that Fels did.
Jewellery is art in and of itself, of course, but many jewellers find direct inspiration from other art forms, just as painters generally find inspiration from a range of works in various mediums. The name of Fel’s company testifies to his artistic inspirations just as much as his work does. That this is a trend which persists into our era is well illustrated by the pieces of jewellery for sale at New York’s Met Museum.
So, we may be getting on for three-quarters of a century since Renoir-Matisse Jewellery was first produced, but the design house’s influence is definitely still visible in the jewellery we wear today.