Summer Bird

Large butterfly made of natural pearls, diamonds & coloured stones, 1890s

In ancient Greece they were called psyche, breath, breath, soul, as animals were considered the embodiment of the human soul. Later times believed that they would steal butter in unseen moments, and in modern times they have finally become rare as their habitat is disappearing: But always pleases the sight of a butterfly. Conversation pieces in the form of insect brooches were a popular trend from the 1890s onwards that has since often been revisited. Especially butterflies were well-loved, since their colourful wings lent themselves beautifully to a lavish use of precious coloured gemstones. This butterfly brooch dates to the first wave of this trend, the 1890s, and is sure to have once been a conversation starter at elegant dinner parties and soirées. The body of the butterfly is made up of three natural pearls, which were at the time of its creation still worth their weight in diamonds; unlike cultured pearls, they had to be painstakingly sourced, until one acquired enough similarly coloured and sized pearls for any given piece of jewellery. The wings are set with all the major gemstones: blue sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. In order to make the gemstones' bright colour stand out even more vibrantly, the creator chose to overlay the massive golden body of the brooch with silver, then a common artisanal technique, seeing as yellow gold might have tinted and therefore falsified the colours.

The years around 1890 brought a new fashion to the field of jewellery: insect brooches were all the rage in the metropolises of Europe, and butterflies, bees and dragonflies in particular made their way onto ladies' collars and décolletés. Richly set with precious stones and seldom monochrome, but usually in a colourful profusion of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, these brooches remained in constant demand until the early years of the 20th century and were a sign of assured taste. (Cf. similar pieces in David Bennett/Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, London 2010, pp. 229ff.)

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.