Flutterby Butterfly


Nature is an inexhaustive repertoire for jewelers – and the art of ornamentation has always been in the interest of embellishment. One may even say that adornment is a perfect human mimic of nature. To wear bold, bright colored jewels could be compared to some animals that ward off danger with color, just as one may choose to go tone on tone and “blend in”, delicately and intricately. The shapes and colors attached to certain animals, such as insects, are themselves so complicated, that they have always proved a challenge to the inspired Jewelsmith.

The butterfly has been a very common subject since the early 1800s and has been re-interpreted in a variety of styles. Due to its natural beauty jewelsmiths have cyclically approached the subject by trying to interpret, imitate, appropriate, and finally dismantle this particular creature.

We have all witnessed various interpretations of butterfly jewelry, they are all somewhat structured as a butterfly; engraved, cloisonné, gem-set, etc and are easily recognizable. The beauty is in the dexterity of the craftsmanship and in the eye of the beholder. What is curious is how this creature can lead such a creative obsession.

Anonymous - Early 19th Century. Gold and back foiled citrines.

Anonymous- Early 19th Century. Gold and back foiled citrines.

No matter how delightfully interpreted this creature may be, the artistic tendency will gradually develop from interpretation to imitation. The butterflies of the 19th century were often stylized, however there was still a desire to set these “en trembleuse”; an effect which gave the impression that the wings were in movement when worn. The late 19th century re-introduced enamel work and the desire to explore this technique resulted in anatomically precise works of art, as can be seen with Carlo Giuliano’s gold and enamel broche.

Carlo Giuliano - late 19th century. Gold and enamel.

Carlo Giuliano – late 19th century. Gold and enamel.

The limits of our crafts cease here… how to render this creature more life like? Trying to capture this ephemeral beauty; eternally is no easy task.  However, there was something missing, the sort of glistening one finds on the live thing which no diamond can replace, even should Lalique have a go at it. The solution was to be provided by Thomas L. Mott during the 1924 British Empire Exhibition who made stylized butterfly brooches, inset with real iridescent butterfly wings encased under glass.

Lalique - Circa 1895. Gold, silver, diamonds, enamel.

Lalique – Circa 1895. Gold, silver, diamonds, enamel.

Thomas L. Mott - Circa 1924. Silver brooch, morpho butterfly wings encased in glass.

Thomas L. Mott – Circa 1924. Silver brooch, morpho butterfly wings encased in glass.

The chase for perfection continues as jewelry techniques are refined over time. Designers such as today’s Wallace Chan and Sylvie Corbelin have themselves mixed and matched these techniques by combining real butterfly wings, set on gold, encased by rock crystal or glass, en trembleuse, and set in gemstone with yet an abstraction of the body shape. Have we finally reached near perfection?

Wallace Chan - Early 21st Century. Gold, sapphires, diamonds, butterfly wings encased in rock crystal.

Wallace Chan – Early 21st Century. Gold, sapphires, diamonds, butterfly wings encased in rock crystal.

Sylvie Corbelin - Early 21st century. Gold, sapphires, ruby, butterfly wings encased in glass.

Sylvie Corbelin – Early 21st century. Gold, sapphires, ruby, butterfly wings encased in glass.

Advertisements
Comments
2 Responses to “Flutterby Butterfly”
  1. Reblogged this on Some of my handmade designs and commented:
    I just thought that I would share this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: