It was the cicada, and not the lark!

Unusual novelty brooch in the shape of a cicada, around 1900

The song of the cicadas is virtually synonymous with warm nights in the south: hardly an evening goes by without hearing that shimmering sound with which the winged insects attract their fellow species. When we think of balmy summer evenings under cypresses and fragrant citrus trees, of good wine on an Italian terrace, perhaps with a view of the water, we immediately hear the chirping of the cicadas. The present brooch, which depicts a larger-than-life cicada in precious materials, also seduces us into such an imagination. Large pearl shells with iridescent luster form the wings, surrounded by blue sapphires in various shades. Small rose-cut diamonds set brilliant accents on the velvety shimmering body, while two cabochons of deep red rubies lend the precious insect a bright look. Despite the heavy, solid finish in gold, the jewel can be worn without worry thanks to a safety brooch. Sog. Novelty jewellery in unexpected figurative forms was extremely popular around the turn of the last century. Birds perched on swings, fox heads adorned lapel pins, and even objects from everyday life were elevated to jewelry motifs. From the 1890s onwards, ladies were also fond of wearing brooches in the shape of gem-set insects: Butterflies, moths and flies are more common, while cicadas are rare. Our example was made around 1900. This unusual piece of jewellery has been cherished ever since it was made over a century ago, so that it is still in good condition and wearable today. Will it soon make its next wearer think of balmy summer nights on grey days - or will she even take it on holiday to southern climes herself?

In the late 19th century, a new, never-before-seen type of jewellery emerged: so-called "Novelty Jewellery" caused a sensation with new, surprising and previously unthinkable shapes and material combinations: for example, birds suddenly settled on swings and became earrings. Many everyday objects found their way onto the lapels of ladies and gentlemen, such as tennis rackets, golf clubs and stamps, but the technical world also found expression in this fashion. Machines, automobiles in miniature and the new telephone were surprising focal points. The purpose of these pieces was to provide points of contact for conversation in society. At birthday parties, a brooch with the year of birth of the person being celebrated could be a sympathetic gesture; on joint hunting trips, a fox brooch could complement the wardrobe in accordance with the setting. Even skulls glowing from the eyes by batteries were offered to set a macabre, yet cheerful accent at a dinner party. Yet the jewelry was not exclusively costume jewelry. Many pieces were, of course, designed for one-time use and made of inexpensive materials. The ever more advanced industrialization also in the jewelry sector allowed at one time the mass production of gold-plated and also only gold-colored brooches and pendants. But renowned goldsmiths also created small novelty pieces from precious metals, set with precious stones, because the fashion for the curious, surprising and cheerful was alive and well in all strata of society: in fact, the royal family in Great Britain even took on a pioneering role here - and with their use of jewels set the standard by which their subjects then wanted to be measured. For more on this fascinating topic, see Charlotte Gere / Judy Rudoe: Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, London 2010, pp. 190-247.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.