Unusual antique brooch made of real beetles & gold, around 1890
The 19th century also loved everything new and unseen in the field of jewellery. Always striving to surprise with unusual shapes and materials, jewellers created creations from preserved animal bodies and parts. Insects, reptiles, feathers or even entire birds formed the most diverse pieces of jewellery, the sight of which is just as spectacular today as it was more than 100 years ago. The present brooch, dating from around 1890, presents six real, shimmering green beetles that have come together to form a decorative arrangement. The import of these tree beetles, which originated in Brazil, began in 1860 - at the same time as the opening of the Suez Canal. Often, therefore, their dried carapaces were used for Egyptian-style jewelry, instead of stone scarabs. And as "scarabs" they also entered the trade, joining the style pluralism of those years by taking over the function of the Egyptian lucky beetle. Pieces of jewellery with these beetles were therefore also called "Cleopatra ornaments". In this case, the beetles are individually set in low-carat gold and can be worn as brooches, as they are mounted in a movable manner. They were probably once intended as corsage ornaments. An exotic antique piece of jewellery of the late 19th century, still suitable to amaze the beholder today!
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 also renowned goldsmiths created small novelty pieces from precious metals, set with precious stones: For the fashion for the curious, surprising and cheerful was alive and well in all strata of society: indeed, the royal family in Great Britain even took a pioneering role here - and with their use of jewels set the standard by which their subjects then wished 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.