Merrick, NY—Butterflies (left, by Oscar Heyman) and other insects have been an inspiration for adornment since ancient times. As early as 1350 BC, Egyptian tomb paintings depicted butterflies, and of course the Egyptians also were famous for their scarab beetles, worn as amulets for good luck—still an iconic jewelry motif today.
“Insect imagery continued on through history. The ancient Greeks and Romans also loved butterflies, the Etruscans loved bee imagery, and the Ephesians actually had a bee goddess,” says Monica McLaughlin, a jewelry historian and blogger for TheHairpin.com. “It's also used a lot in Asian art, but it became extremely popular again in the 19th century, when archaeological revival jewelry was all the rage. Art Nouveau designers made exceptional use of the long, sinuous lines of dragonflies.”
Lalique did some amazing things with bees, and cicadas were used a lot as a jewelry theme too, because of their jewel-like colors, she added.
This spring, fashion-forward jewelry-lovers will be coveting insects again. To wit, the monthly “Must-Haves” page in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar (below) featured butterfly brooches from Van Cleef & Arpels and Eternamé, and a Le Vian butterfly ring. Meanwhile, Stephen Webster and Delfina Delettrez offered up bejeweled crawly bugs for the feature—beautifully realistic enough to give entomophobes a moment of pause. Here is the Harper’s Bazaar page and more selections in a range of price points.
Clockwise from top, Van Cleef & Arpels, Delfina Delettrez, Etername, Stephen Webster, and Le Vian in the May issue of Harper's Bazaar.
Above left, a custom-designed butterfly (retail, $9,900) from the Princessa Collection by Bellarri has approximately 1.80 cts. of diamonds, 9.53 cts. of rhodolite, and 14.38 cts. of multi-color sapphires set in 18k gold. Above right, a bee pin (retail $7,615) from the La Boutique collection by Bellarri contains 0.83 ct. of round diamonds and one black Tahitian Pearl set in 18k gold.
Oscar Heyman butterfly, seen in profile, has 23 round pink sapphires (4.29 cts.) and 132 round fancy color diamonds (3.01 cts.) in 18k gold. Retail, $48,000. Also by Oscar Heyman, a blue and yellow sapphire butterfly with ruby and diamonds, set in platinum (retail, $53,000). At top of page, a platinum butterfly (retail, $46,000) with two cabochon sapphires (0.06 cts.), 10 square emeralds (0.89 cts.), 22 oval pink sapphires (6.05 cts.) and 81 round diamonds (2.69 cts.).
Slane’s bee ring is available in 18k gold, sterling silver, and mixed silver and gold, all with or without diamond accents. It features the Napoleonic bee, which symbolizes wisdom, strength, and nobility. Here, two versions are shown: 18k gold (retail, $3,850) and sterling silver with 18k gold accents and 0.21 ct. of pavé diamond (retail, $1,150.)
Mimi So’s custom butterfly necklace has 0.31 ct. of diamonds in 18k white gold. Retail, $3,750.
Left, Ellagem’s butterfly brooch is rendered in black onyx, diamond, and pearl, with ruby eyes. Retail, $68,000. Right, Alishan’s Black Widow spider brooch (retail, $8,670) is rendered in palladium with 0.70 cts. of diamonds, carved green quartz, and 22.08 cts. of aquamarine, with ruby on the back.
Platinum dragonfly with 48 full-cut diamonds, 0.55 ct. (retail, $9,200) and 18k yellow gold butterfly with seven full-cut diamonds, 0.16 ct. (retail, $3,040) by Maria Canale for Suna Bros.