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Antique Diamond, Pearl and Gem-set Butterfly Brooch

Created in the 1880s, this diamond, pearl, and gem-set butterfly brooch is set in silver-topped 18K gold. The old mine-cut diamond and pearl body, with emerald eyes and ruby-tipped antennae, has curving rose-cut diamond wings edged with rubies and highlighted by round-cut sapphires, in a patinated silver-topped 18K gold mount. Beautifully modeled, with intense sparkle and colors, this small jewel conveys the preciousness and rarity of the graceful favorite of the insect world.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: BO-21096
Circa: 1880
Dimensions: 1.00" length x 1.50" width
Materials: 1 old mine and 58 rose-cut diamonds (approximate total weight 0.94 carat); 1 natural freshwater pearl; 4 old round cut sapphires (approximate total weight 0.35 carat); 28 mixed old cut rubies (approximate total weight 0.60 carat); 2 old round-cut emeralds (approximate total weight 0.01 carat); Silver-topped 18K Gold
Signed: 18

Fashionable women of the late 19th century wore insect brooches in multiples. Multiple butterflies might adorn a dress or alternately secure an opulent veil in place. Although seen since the Renaissance in Western jewelry, insect brooches resurged in popularity from the 1860s with Europe's new exploration of and profound fascination with Japanese art. Their symbolism was rich and included the butterfly's spiritual identification with the soul, while their vivid coloration in nature gave jewelers license to lavish these jewels with the full and varied spectrum of precious stones.