If you are looking for vintage Lluis Masriera jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, jewelry marks, our favorite collectible pieces and where to buy them.
If you are lucky enough to own a piece of Lluís Masriera Jewelry, you are lucky enough! However, you will certainly want to add to your collection, or begin a new one, so here is some information about the designer, his life and his work to get you started on your journey.
Catalan Jeweler of the Art Nouveau Period
Exquisite is hardly an adequate description for Masriera. His pieces are extraordinary. They comprise graceful female figures of mythological origin, animals, frogs, dragons, naiads, nymphs, birds and flowers crafted with enamel, gemstones, pearls and precious metals so typical of the Art Nouveau movement which made him famous. Masriera jewelry is exquisitely made, with superb craftsmanship and high-quality materials. Lluis was also a gifted painter, talented set designer, playwright and director in his home city of Barcelona, Spain.
Art Nouveau was a design style in developed in the latter part of the nineteenth century and was distinguished by its undulating asymmetrical lines, often taking the form of flower stalks and buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate and sinuous natural objects. It was a celebration of graceful nature, colorful, organic and decorative, and it had developed out of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris and reflected in the work of Aubrey Beardsley whose wall posters were in everyone’s 1980s student dorm room.
Art Nouveau influenced architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters and illustration. It was also influenced by painters such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaudi and Paul Gauguin.
One of the most renowned influencers of the period was Rene Lalique, the French designer famous for his lamps, chandeliers, perfume bottles, glassware and jewelry. He was to influence many international students - one of whom was Lluis Masriera - who took his ideas back to their native countries and developed them further. The style was named Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionstil in Austria, Stile Floreale in Italy and Modernisme in Spain and it gradually took over as the main design influencer worldwide from between 1890 and 1910.
History of Lluis Masriera Jewelry
1872 – Lluis Masriera is born into a family of silversmiths in Barcelona, Spain. His father is a silversmith and a famous painter, and Lluis quickly follows in his footsteps.
1887 - Lluis’s early life involves him in the family business, and he starts helping in their workshop at the age of 15. He learns how to make high-quality, precisely constructed, technically perfect jewelry, if lacking in style.
1889 – Lluis goes to study in Geneva at the Academy of Beaux Arts where he is taught by the famous enameller, Edward Lossier. Masriera became an expert in enameling and integrates the techniques he learns from Lossier into his future designs. He masters the art of plique-a- jour, a process which literally means “letting in the daylight.” It is a type of transparent enamel, similar to a stained-glass window, in which the metal outline is filled with colored, glass-like enamels which have no backing, making them look transparent. You will see many examples of plique-a jour in Lluis’s work.
1890 – Lluis travels to Paris who he is introduced to the work of Rene Lalique and the Art Nouveau movement. He becomes enamored of the new design aesthetic and incorporates it into his jewelry from then onwards.
1897 – Lluis marries and has six children.
1900 – He returns to Barcelona at the age of eighteen and named Artistic Director of the family workshop which he runs the business with his brother Josep. Inspired by Lalique, for the next six months he melts down the entire stock of family jewelry and uses the raw materials to create a new Art Nouveau collection, displaying it in their shop window.
1901 - The new collection featuring flower girls, butterflies, cranes, herons, roosters and peacocks is an enormous success and sells out in less than a week! Modernisme has arrived.
Over the years, Masriera show his work in exhibitions in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Buenos Aires and San Francisco.
1906 – Lluis is commissioned to make a diadem to celebrate the marriage of Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg with King Alfonso XIII.
1907 – A crozier for the Bishop of Tui is made of gold and silver enamel plique-a-jour engraved with diamonds, sapphires, amethysts
1912 – Masriera continues to make Modernisme pieces until 1912 when famously declares it dead in an essay called The Fall of Modernism. Lluis moves on to a new school of design called Noucentisme, which embraces timeless, classical lines. This evolves into Art Deco design with its straight, geometric lines, influences from Cubism and homage to the new, fast-paced industrial, modern age.
1912 – His father, Josep Masriera dies. Lluis inherits the workshop with his brother Richard. It becomes a gathering place for all sorts of artists, poets, actors and writers, and Lluis becomes a key figure in the cultural society of Barcelona.
1958 – Lluis dies.
1969 - The Bagués firm buys a 50% share in Masriera.
1985 – Bagués buys the remaining interest in the business, and the company still operates to this day under the name Bagués-Masriera, Lluis’s work lives on in the Casa Amatller on Passeig De Gracia in Barcelona. The company keeps his art alive by “continuing to master the artesian techniques of translucent enameling and fire enameling.”
The original metal molds are still used today by craftsmen to create limited editions pieces. Each one is individually numbered with its own certificate of guarantee.
MASRIERA in capital letters
Where to Buy Vintage Lluis Masriera Jewelry
Masriera pieces are much sought after by collectors, yet you will find them readily available online on a variety of sites and at auctions both in the US and Europe. eBay, Etsy, and 1stDibs have an assortment of vintage Masriera jewelry.
Here are a few of our favorite pieces now listed on Etsy:
Vintage from the 1990s - Ring from the "Vitralls" collection dedicated to Frank Lloyd Wright. 18K gold ring with translucent and opaque enamel, rock crystal, and princess-cut diamonds.
Masriera Diamond Aqua Enamel 18k Gold Open Floral Wave Band Ring
Vintage from the 1990s - 18k yellow gold with an open design. Aqua enamel floral petals are accented with round cut diamonds.
Masriera Diamond & Enamel Scaled Fish 18k Yellow Gold Band Ring
Vintage from the 1990s - Solid 18k yellow gold with a polished finish. The entire band is sculpted into a scaled fish with cream, deep and light orange enamel, with its head fin and tail adorned with diamonds.
Masriera Enamel 4 Flower Station 18k Yellow Gold Chain Bracelet
Vintage from the 1990s - 18k yellow gold and has 4 open circle stations, inside each circle is a lovely blue and orange enamel flower.
Masriera and Carreras Medal Virgin Mary of Translucent Enamel, Diamonds and Gold
Vintage from the 1910s -Composed of blue, red, white and green translucent enamel in 18-karat gold and is adorned with pink diamonds. Enameled with the plique-a-jour technique in Barcelona, during the years 1915.
Masriera Jewerly Today
Masriera maintains its tradition of being the only continuously produced Art Nouveau collection in the world. Proof of its ongoing appeal by collectors are the several dedicated auctions of Masriera jewelry over the years at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
In 2005 a rare ivory, enamel and gem set pendant brooch by Lluis realized $84,000 US. It depicts a green, pink, blue and white gothic window showing Isolde with rose cut diamond hair wearing a diamond and gold gothic crown enhanced by a griffin. It was made in about 1900.
The legacy of Masriera lives on. It is handcrafted, delicate and exquisite jewelry that embodies the world of fantasy and color from the Art Nouveau period. From the nineteenth century until now, this iconic brand is immune to the cycles of fashion.
Any serious jewelry collector with an eye for Art Nouveau will have at least one piece of Masriera. If you are looking for extraordinary, colorful, graceful jewelry that is wearable and eminently collectible, look no further than Masriera.