Art Nouveau Mermaid Cufflinks
Mermaid and Swan
| A mermaid rests quietly amid swaying cattails
while a swan serenely glides past. The beautifully
sculpted scene (note the details of the golden scepter in the
mermaid's right hand) is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau
figural design. The gold is finely textured so that the
sky and water glow as if illuminated by the first light just
before sunrise. Created by Krementz & Co. in 14kt
gold, circa 1900.
An unusual feature of these cufflinks is that the mermaid and swan motif is repeated on the backs. In the years around 1900 the backs of most cufflinks were left unadorned or merely engraved with the initials of the wearer - in short the backs were somewhat plain and uninteresting. To rectify this Krementz & Co. began creating cufflinks with the backs decorated with the same or a similar design as the fronts. These cufflinks are sometimes referred to as "Krementz doubles".
The beauty of the design is matched by the precision and care with which the cufflinks were created. Note the sturdy curved bridges and strong quad brackets ("four footed") that secure the ends of the cufflinks. The curve of the bridges helps keep the cufflinks properly aligned on the cuff while the sturdiness of the design assures that the cufflinks are securely attached when worn. The level of craftsmanship is apparent in the small, often overlooked, details.
The maker's mark of Krementz & Co. is stamped on the bridges just to the right of the "14K" gold purity mark. The Krementz mark has been described as a nose and moustache, but in fact is a profile view of a collar button that Krementz & Co. was famous for manufacturing during the late Victorian era and early 1900s.
Name: Mermaid and Swan
Although Art Nouveau jewelry was first created in France during the 1890's, the new style was soon embraced by jewelers in the United States. Among the early adopters was Krementz & Company, a fine jewelry maker based in Newark, New Jersey. The firm's history tells how in the mid 1890s one of the sons of George Krementz, the firm's founder, embarked on a bicycle trip through Europe while on summer break from Yale. During his travels he became entranced with the exotic jewels of the Art Nouveau and upon his return urged his father to embrace the new style. These cufflinks are likely a result of the son's new found passion.
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