Jewellery within the type of bugs has been round for millennia. Among the most well-known are imitations of scarab beetles, often known as dung beetles, that the Egyptians long-established into amulets. Revivals of these items have been made and worn repeatedly since then, together with the imitations of different bugs like bees and dragonflies. However do you know that jewellery crafted with actual bugs can be a factor? And I’m not speaking concerning the occasional tiny historic insect encased in Baltic amber; some are giant, full-bodied bugs full with antennae.
If the thought makes your pores and skin crawl, you’re undoubtedly not alone. Many individuals, together with myself, discover such a jewellery creepy, if not downright revolting. It’s one thing I’d by no means put on, and if I had an opportunity to purchase a bit for a music, it might go within the “on the market” pile pronto. Nonetheless, many individuals discover it fascinating, and a few of these designs will be fairly invaluable, so it’s nonetheless a subject worthy of exploration.
Victorian Insect Jewellery
The Victorians had been undoubtedly in contact with nature—generally an excessive amount of in contact, in case you ask me. I’m referring to the modern follow of carrying lifeless bugs strung collectively as necklaces and bracelets. They had been additionally used individually to make dangling earrings and stickpins that males might put on on lapels. They did this with numerous bugs, however essentially the most usually discovered in the present day are scarab-type beetles with vivid inexperienced hues and iridescent sheens. They’re generally mistaken for some sort of stone, and if that’s what they had been, they’d really be sort of fairly.
Items of bijou made with bugs are additionally a number of the most respected genuine insect items after they date to the late 1800s. They’re uncommon finds and may carry tons of and even 1000’s relying on what number of bugs are used within the design. You’ll find extra fairly priced stickpins and a few earrings, particularly revival items from the primary half of the twentieth century, in case you’re available in the market.
Bugs Encased in Plastic
By the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s, entire lifeless bugs had been encased in clear or coloured plastic. I first grew to become conscious of such a jewellery at a collector’s conference a long time in the past, the place some bangle bracelets of this sort had been being offered, a lot to my vexation. Somebody I knew favored them and acquired one whereas I shunned her choice. They was once fairly inexpensive however can high $100 lately.
Since that first sighting, I’ve additionally run throughout bees encased in Lucite cabochons within the type of earrings, rings, and sweater guards. I’ve additionally seen scorpions inside Lucite pendants at lower cost factors. Nonetheless, all I can say to any of those is, “no thanks.”
Pressed Insect Jewellery
Many individuals gather sterling silver jewellery crafted from the wings of morpho butterflies. And actually, I don’t discover these items to be as cringe-worthy as different varieties of insect jewellery. These had been primarily offered as souvenirs in England starting within the Twenties, and there’s something concerning the blue colour and kitschy silhouette décor I discover a bit endearing.
Often, collectors run throughout full-pressed butterflies or moths beneath glass in pins or pendants which might be even older. Take into consideration how flowers have been pressed and preserved beneath glass, and also you’ll get the image. A few of them have morpho wings for a backdrop. Possibly as a result of they’re older and the harm was accomplished way back, these classic and vintage jewellery items fall into a suitable space for me.
Newer earrings and brooches with different varieties of butterfly wings encased in plastic have additionally been offered within the 2010s. Nonetheless, it’s only a bit an excessive amount of to pluck the wings from a butterfly to make fashionable jewellery, so I can dwell with out these.
Jewellery Made with Reside Bugs
I most likely shouldn’t go there, provided that I’m creeped out sufficient by many of the lifeless insect jewellery provided to collectors, however jewellery made with dwell bugs was reported within the late 1800s, too. One in all these sightings was talked about in Entomological News, the place a lady named Mrs. De Jones donned an “innovation” that apparently prompted a stir, and with good motive!
“It was an amazing jewel Mrs. De Jones had on final night time. What was it? It was a dwell Brazilian beetle with a giant diamond strapped on its again. It was educated to fly round her neck, thus giving the impact of a diamond necklace.” Fireflies had been used as glowing hair jewellery, and Mexican beetles had been hooked up to chains so they might crawl round as residing brooches in the course of the interval as effectively.
Now, lots of jewellery worn by Victorians baffles the thoughts in the present day, however fashionable variations of these beetle brooches had been noticed once more as “roach brooches” within the early 2000s. Maquech beetles, once more from Mexico, had been adorned with fake gems to make these little pets, if you’ll. I’m nonetheless left questioning who would put on corresponding to this (as my mom would have mentioned), however when shock and awe are the aim in donning jewellery, I feel we now have a winner.
So, that’s my overview of a number of the jewellery made with bugs, each lifeless and alive. By this level, I do know I’ve both repulsed you, fascinated you, or possibly even delighted you in case you’re into bizarre curiosities, however there you’ve gotten it both approach.
Pamela Siegel is a contract author and creator who has been educating collectors for greater than twenty years. Along with three books on subjects regarding antiques and collectibles, she often shares her experience by on-line writing and articles for print-based publications. Pamela can be the co-founder of Costume Jewellery Collectors Int’l (CJCI) and the proprietor of Stylish Antiques by Pamela.
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