Elizabeth Bonte’ is recognized as one of the great Parisian Art Nouveau jewelers. She was inspired by Lalique, and created very naturalistic pieces of flowers, trees and the insects that were so popular during the Art Nouveau period. She specialized in the use of horn since its appearance conveys the illusion of insect wings so well.
She merged her workshop with her one-time rival, George Pierre who also used horn extensively, and together they made art nouveau jewelry and art items like hair combs until 1936
Using horn in jewelry is a labor intensive and multi-step process. It includes soaking the horn in a solution of hydrogen peroxide to add a sheen to the translucent material- that “gossamer” look we love. It was then carved and often times hand tinted to add those naturalistic touches.
Bonte’ experimented with adding hand made glass to her creations. Since the glass itself also has a translucent quality, the use of it in her jewelry added to the “gossamer” look of the whole piece.
Finding her pieces today is rather difficult. It’s quite an undertaking to verify her signature (Bonte). The Maclowe Gallery in NY had an exhibit several years ago and wrote a book that contains the pieces that were displayed. Unfortunately, the book does not contain pictures of the backs of the pieces to see the construction or the signatures.
I did find a sold item of Elizabeth Bonte’ on Ruby Lane. The seller did a great job of photographing the pieces and including pictures of the reverse. There are two photos of the signature. Anyone interested should take a look.