The wonder of nature’s smallest of creatures

on Sally Thorntons Jewellery Blog from AA Thornton jeweller Kettering Northampton

This month we welcome spring and who can fail to be inspired by the nature that this season brings? With this in mind, I wanted to focus on some of nature’s smallest of creatures which include our little bees, butterflies and dragonflies. These brightly coloured insects are a greatly loved motif and are continually used in jewellery designs past and present.  So as Pliny the Elder put it “Nature is to be found in her entirety nowhere more than in her smallest creatures.”

Eighteenth century jewellery designers had a fascination with nature and took inspiration also from insects, so by the 1860’s insects featured as a jewellery accessory on bodices, hats and veils. This sweet gold Victorian butterfly stick pin set with pearls and opal body would have looked perfectly placed pinned on a hat!

Butterflies were also a popular subject for jewellery because of their physical and spiritual quality. Not only this, they have such a distinctive shape and are so colourful. These current designs capture this shape and are quite striking using a mix of silver and vitreous enamel in contrasting colours.

Bees have long been associated with determination and hard work, possibly because of its association with the Bonaparte family in the 1860’s, who used the bee as their emblem and so   became very fashionable. With its lovely round shape, it is no wonder there are so many designers today creating bee inspired jewellery.

The little citrine and black diamond bumble bee is so cute. Initially drawn by the designer’s young daughter, the picture was then made into a gold pendant for his collection

This silver collection revolves around bees too. I also like the fact that every 15% spent goes towards helping bees by the British Beekeepers Association.

This year Scottish designer Linda Macdonald has also introduced some small bee earrings as part of her new collection.

Another winged creature, the dragonfly, captures my attention because of the way they dart and are gymnastic aerialists! They were a favoured subject by the jeweller Rene Lalique who used a technique called plique-à-jour enamel to create the dragonflies lacey wings creating a miniature stained glass window and perfect to create an insect’s wing

This specialist technique is still used today in this plique-à-jour dragonfly silver and enamel brooch and antique reproduction dragonfly silver and yellow pendant set with white sapphires.

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