Cf. Bayerischen Nationalmuseum, "Pariser Schmuck vom Zweiten Kaiserreich zur Belle Epoque", Hirmer Verlag Mnchen, 1989, page 156
"Japonisme" was an important trend during the second half of the 19th century. Very apparent in the painting sphere, it also filtered into jewellery. Emile Zola wrote at the time: "The influence of "Japonisme" was what was needed to deliver us from the (murky) black tradition and to show us the bright beauty of nature....There is no doubt that our dark painting, our painting in oils, was greatly impressed, and pursued the study of these transparent horizons, this beautiful, vibrant colouring of the Japanese." The alteration of classical perspective and colourful character of the Japanese print, which became available in Europe circa 1850, excercised a strong influence on artists such as Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).
At the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Japanese art was well represented. According to Katherine Purcell in "Falize: A Dynasty of Jewellers", the Parisian jeweller, Alexis Falize (1811-1898), produced a series of cloisonn jewels in the Japanese style for this exhibition. With the help of an extremely talented enameller, Antoine Tard, he undertook the complicated and somewhat hazardous technique. To begin with, one shaped gold wire with pliers (gold was preferred over copper, a metal more frequently used in the Orient). It was then soldered to a base. The resulting cells were then filled with enamel. Apparently, Tard was particularly gifted in controlling the effect of the firing and the depth of the subsequent final polish. Falize's motifs borrowed from his small collection of Japanese woodblock prints. The bright colours, though sometimes witnessed in Japanese art, are perhaps more common in Chinese porcelains.
These jewels proved immensely popular. Due to the complicated nature of their creation, they were quite expensive, a fact that does not seem to have inhibited potential purchasers. The jeweller and historian, Henri Vever, is known to have purchased at least eight examples and houses such as Tiffany & Company placed orders.
The collector and art critic, Philippe Burty, wrote of them in his "Les Emaux Cloisonns Anciens et Modernes": "These jewels harmonize perfectly with the bright colours women are wearing today. This must be the reason for their success, since they are very costly. They are unlikely to come down in price, since each is unique and there are technical difficulties which have to be taken into account....."