History of Edwardian Insect Jewelry

Compass Rose Design's Victorian-inspired steampunk insect jewelry is one of our most popular collections. This trend is an echo of elegant designs made more than a century ago. Throughout the Victorian era, natural themes were popular in jewelry, fashion, and furniture design. These designs embody the dynamic between the emerging industrial era and a romanticized notions of the natural world. The detailed antiqued gold and brass butterfly and honey bee stampings used in the Compass Rose Design collection are reminiscent of Art Nouveau designs by the French designer Vever. 

Vever was a family-owned jewelry design house that opened in 1821 in Metz, France. They specialized in precious gem setting as well as semi-precious and organic gemstones, creating high quality art nouveau designs popular with upscale clientele. The family company won a Grand Prize for gem-set jewelery at the 1899 Paris International Exposition, and contributed to exhibitions in Moscow (1891), Chicago (1893), and Brussels (1897).   The detailed construction of insects provided a perfect showcase for skilled crafstmanship.

This 1894 Late Victorian evening gown is made in a gorgeous black accented with glass beads and sequins, trimmed with tulle, embroidered net in a design of butterflies applied to the skirt and bodice. The large sleeves are also typical of this period, a revival of similar 1830s balloon style sleeve, called l'imbecile (silly) or a la folle (foolish). These exaggerated sleeve styles often required small down shoulder pillows, called sleeve pumpers. From the 1840s until the brief revival in the 1890s, sleeves were more tailored.

This Compass Rose Design custom dragonfly necklace shown below was a custom piece. This dragonfly stamping has incredible detailing and is a beautiful update to the original design inspiration.  Victorians put great stock in symbolic romantic ideas, drawing upon ancient symbols in sentimental designs. Queen Victoria's engagement ring was a snake set with turqouise, drawing Egyptian ideas of eternity.

Edwardian and Victorian jewelry designs reflected the late nineteenth-century interest and romanticized notions of the natural world. Many featured creatures including moths, butterflies, and dragonflies. This diamond, sapphire and pearl dragonfly brooch is Art Nouveau - circa 1890-1905. These woodland creepy-crawly insects provide an intriguing conceptual contrast to the tight-laced Victorian aesthetic.

The Compass Rose Design Jewelry mechanical clockwork beetle pendant is a revival of a late nineteenth century beetle design. I've added a steampunk element with the antique mechanical jeweled watch movement. This design combines industrial elements with late Victorian romantic and natural design qualities.

The late Victorian original jeweled beetle is pictured at left. The body of this elegant gold insect pin is fashioned from a magnificent pearl; the head set with green garnets; and its eyes represented by two faceted diamonds. The brooch is marked on its hook "J & M" for the firm of Jacques & Marcus, which operated in New York from about 1882 to 1892. In jewelry, as with fashion, we can see that since the founding of haute couture with the House of Worth in 1858 (ironically by an Englishman who set up shop in Paris), fashion is trend - revised, revisited, and re-envisioned.


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