Do you wrinkle your nose at the mention of bugs? What about butterflies? They are in fact insects. They have four wings and six legs and like other insects, they have a multi- stage life cycle. They have exoskeletons, but in the butterfly, this exoskeleton is the velvety looking wings which are made of pigmented scales. Enough science.
Like many people, my internal filing system has one drawer for butterflies and one for all other insects. Today, I have the butterfly drawer open, so let's talk butterfly jewelry.
Caterpillar pin (larva stage) by Kenneth Jay Lane
Insect collecting was widespread in Europe in the 1800s and the Victorians were particularly keen on collecting for education purposes. This translated into butterflies as art. Framed brooches and pendants made with real butterfly wings were very popular.
After an exhibit by jeweler Thomas L Mott in 1924, reverse painted jewelry with butterfly wing backgrounds became fashionable. Mott's company and Hoffman, an American company, produced the majority of these pieces. T.L Mott hallmark
Garnet jewelry was also popular during the Victorian age, so naturally butterfly jewelry was made with garnets.
With the introduction of plastics into manufacturing in the early 20th century, Bakelite and other synthetic materials became another medium for jewelry making.
Rhinestones in costume jewelry gave sparkle to everything including butterflies. These two examples are by Jomaz and Weiss.
Examples of enamel and filigree silver butterflies.
Beaded butterflies by Stanley Hagler and Miriam Haskell.
Jewelers in Scandinavia produced exceptional silver butterflies with multi-colored enamel. Below are examples by David Andersen (first 2), Finn Jensen, Theodor Olsens and Hroar Prydz.
And there you have it - lots of butterflies. I leave you with a bit of trivia; butterflies are found on every continent except Antarctica.
Note: my title for this post is from a quote by R.H. Heinlein - Butterflies are self propelled flowers.
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