What’s It Worth? Bugs? In Jewelry?

Yes, Really. Many people don’t know, and some who do are appalled. But in Victorian England and the US – as well as a few select other countries – animals, bugs and insects were frequently incorporated into jewelry. Often designed with the addition of stunning gemstones, the wearing of this sort of jewelry was an ages-old tradition. In the 1950s, reproductions were made with myriad semi-precious and synthetic gemstones. Occasionally, an antiques dealer will come across small rodent heads encased in 18K gold as brooches or pins.

During the Victorian era, it was De Rigueur to wear mink stoles with the head of the mink (and perhaps the paws and tail as well) still on the stole.

Back to the jewelry – typically we see stick pins with flies, insects and scarab beetles. Naturally iridescent, scarab beetles glisten with a range of bright, shiny colors.

It is particularly rare to find a bracelet such as this with 17 colorful, matched in-size scarabs delicately set by a skilled jeweler in 18k gold.

This bracelet only has $350 worth of gold, and since there really are no market indicators for bugs, it’s not hard to see why many people find these pieces so appealing. This bracelet has an auction estimate of $1,500-$2,000 and the reserve will be under $1,000.

It takes an expert to understand the true value of vintage jewelry, regardless of insect content. Call 727.898.7377 if you have questions about your own item of vintage jewelry. We are always buying.

Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com.

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