18 September 2013

The Luxury of Bugs and Insects

The natural world is all around us but not just in nature. In the world of luxury and the exclusivity of antique jewellery, there are some outstanding examples of the natural world invading the fabricated one. Bugs and insects have inspired numerous expressions of creative flow throughout history and across cultures.

One of the most obvious styles that come to mind is the Art Nouveau. Indeed, creating jewelley that represents bugs and insects has often its origins in some form of reaction. Considered a 'total' style, Art Nouveau was a form of resistance to academic art, the cluttered compositions of William Morris, and the revival tendencies of the nineteenth century, and was most popular between 1890 and 1914. Art Nouveau jewellers used fantasy figures, flowers, vine leaves, birds, bugs, insects as their reference to create pieces in pique-a-jour enamel, with cabochon and pearls incorporated into the designs along with scrolling gold work.

Art Nouveau Carved Horn Cicada Insect Brooch
From The Antique Jewellery Company

A Silver Jugendstil Plique-A-Jour Dragonfly Brooch made in Germany circa 1900
From Van Den Bosch

Vintage Green Beetle Brooch in Dorcasine by Charler Honer
From Gillian Horsup

When Art Nouveau was superseded by Art Deco, jewellery became more geometrical and many of the characteristic themes changed. But bugs and insects, and especially the beetle, remained popular. They were used together with coral, turquoise and coloured crystal to convey interest in exotic lands, architecture and antiquity.

Later on, in the 1950s, when jewellery became particularly gregarious, much more confident, and varied, the natural world, which included all sorts of butterflies and dragonflies, bees and frogs, became part of the decorative lexicon. The 1950s was the decade that saw the birth of modern day traditional insect jewellery.

Edwardian Diamond and Enamel Ladybird Charm
From The Antique Jewellery Company

A Silver Plique-A-Jour Butterfly Pendant set with Amethyst and Pearl made in Germany Circa 1900
From Van Den Bosch

Vintage Dragonfly Earrings
From Unicorn

From the days of the Georgians, when jewellery was high quality and hand made, using the most exquisite gems and precious metals, to the Victorian period when bird, insect and animal themes took on a new meaning with genuine scarabs, birds and claws set in metal, we find nature infiltrating jewellery production. Their extraordinary shapes and colours, and imbued with symbolism bugs and insects are an enduring favourite for fine and costume jewellery alike.

At Grays we had much fun choosing pieces to show you. The idea was to select items that are of high quality, prized for their rarity, or just because they made us happy.

A Pair of Scarab Earrings by Askew of London
From Linda Bee

1920s Spider Pin with Aquamarine Stone and Sea Pearl
From Miwa Thorpe

Vintage Insect Brooch with Green Stone
From Ting's Jewellery Box

For more information visit www.graysantiques.com 
Written by Titika Malkogeorgou

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