Embracing the Bug Jewellery Trend

Embracing the Bug Jewellery Trend

06 November

Bugs are probably the last thing you think of when imagining high fashion. If so it may surprise you to learn that insects have had a significant impact on the fashion world for centuries, and particularly on jewellery.

Lot 188 from out November auction, a beautiful 20th Century French brooch depicting a stylised dragonfly.

Bug jewellery can be traced back to Ancient Greece, with writing by both Aristophanes and Herodotus referencing the men of Athens wearing golden crickets in their hair. In ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle was viewed as a symbol of rebirth. The iconic beetle appeared in many art forms, including jewellery.

Lot 268, an Egyptian style collar with a row of gold scarab beetles.

Fast forward to the Victorian era, when Europeans began putting their own spin on insect-inspired baubles, stemming from the era’s fascination with natural history (Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ arriving in 1859). Designers at the time showcased their craftsmanship with intricate jewellery pieces in the form of honeybees, butterflies, and dragonflies. This style embodied the relationship between the approaching industrial age and the natural world.

Lot 187, a Victorian bug brooch

It was not only insect motifs that were used by Victorian jewellers, as the trend was pushed to its limits with live insect jewellery! Some Victorian women wore live beetles encrusted with gemstones, kept in tiny gold cages, and attached to their clothes or lapels with a pin. It was also common to see earrings, necklaces and bracelets made with the shells or wings of beetles during this time.

Lot 210, a colourful gem set dragonfly brooch

From bees to dragonflies, insect brooches are a whimsical way to wear jewellery.  We have a great selection of luxe bug brooches this month to add a playful and colour to any outfit.

Lot 59, a diamond set bee brooch by Boucheron of Paris