Butterfly wing jewellery

Ten jewellery stones that are totally cool (and not a diamond in sight!)

Bored of bling?

Fed up with playing it safe?

If it’s amazing character and a touch of the unusual you’re after in your jewellery, then check out these eye-catching stones  ..


Vintage Scottish agate and silver brooch with citrine gemstone jewellery deco

Citrine  is the official name bestowed upon orange to yellow colour quartz gemstone. When it’s this size, and bursts with this much fire, it blows other gems out of the water.


9k yellow gold blue topaz trilogy ring jewellery 9ct

If you want big statement rocks that ooze quality, but are also on budget, then topaz is your best friend! With its huge variety of colours and almost pure water like clarity (even in big stones – few inclusions with this baby!), topaz is the perfect go-to all rounder gemstone.

art deco foil backed glass opal pink paste ring vintage jewellery

Is it an opal? Is it a rare rock crystal? Nope, this beauty dates from the 1930s,  is made from good old glass.

vintage 60s butterfly wing earrings jewellery morpho

Though not everyone’s cup of tea, butterfly wing jewellery is made from yep, you’ve guessed it .. the real butterfly wings of the Morpho butterfly.  Before recoiling horror too much, the butterflies involved passed away naturally before being collected up and used to create stunning jewelry. There are surprising conservation aspects to this type of jewelry too – areas of South American rainforests have been saved and even re-planted for the sole purpose of encouraging the breeding of Morphos butterflies for jewellery.

Art Deco carved agate hardstone cameo ring in 9ct gold vintage jewellery

Cameos are one of the oldest forms of jewellery in the world. Get a good quality one, and it’ll be a talking point (and heirloom) for years to come.

Antique Victorian Pietra Dura micro mosaic brooch jewelry

Pietra Dura jewellery involves placing carefully selected thin slivers of real gemstone such as Malachite and Lapis Lazuli, and setting it into carved out onyx to create stunning pictures. Most examples date from the 1800s, like this exquisite Pietra Dura brooch, which originates from Italy, circa 1870s.

vintage art deco pools of light rock quartz crystal onyx gemstone undrilled bead necklace silver jewelry

Pools of Light necklaces are made from undrilled and highly polished natural water-clear rock crystal orbs wrapped in patterned sterling silver, and are sought after around the world, both by jewellery collectors and crystal healers. When one these beauties catches the light, you’ll know about it! The necklace shown has the added bonus of being made with an unusual mix of clear rock crystal and black onyx gemstone-  some crystal healers believe onyx enhances the effect of any gemstone it is placed with.

18ct gold alexandrite russian gemstone colour change jewellery 18k

Often called the stone of true gem connoisseurs, Alexandrite has a stunning quality which means it changes colour (from emerald green to ruby red) in different light conditions.  It is also very rare, and was the favourite gemstone of Russian aristocracy.

vintage blue john quartz silver drop earrings jewellery

Did you know that England has it’s very of internationally sought after gemstone? Deep in the hills of Derbyshire is a gemstone called ‘Blue John’, noted for it’s beautiful blue-purple colour and vivid golden veining.

Victorian Scottish Agate plaid pebble brooch, vintage antique jewellery

With its infinite variety of colours and one of a kind range of patterns, the humble yet beautiful agate is found all around the world. This antique Victorian brooch was made in Scotland circa 1870s, and displays the types of agate found around the Scottish coast – agate experts are able to immediately identify the exact part of Scotland each slice came from!


Further reading:

More info about butterfly farming and conservation:

Papillon Belle

Meet Me On The Bright Side

A blog post I wrote about about butterfly jewellery can be found here


The Blue John from Derbyshire, England:

Blue John on Wikipedia  – great article

Blue John mine tours can be found here and here

Here’s a past blog post I wrote about Blue John.



Butterfly Wing Jewellery


Ever seen a pendant or brooch detailed with a stunning azure blue shimmering background? If the answer is yes, then you may have been looking at a piece of jewellery made from ….. real butterfly wings.


vintage butterfly wing foil blue tie pin bar brooch jewellery

Wowzer that’s blue!


vintage 60s Morpho blue butterfly wing brooch jewelry

Vintage 1960s butterfly wing brooch


Butterfly wing jewellery was popular from the art deco period up to the 1960s, and it involved using real butterfly wings (usually from South American Morpho butterfly) to create rich blue accents or focal points to jewellery. There were two popular designs; plain, to let the beauty and simplicity of the colour shine through (as seen in the above picture), or artwork, which involved reverse painting a glass cabochon with the outline of a picture, which was then placed on top of a butterfly wing to create beautiful scene.  Butterfly wing jewellery was made into charms, brooches, bracelets, earrings and pendants.

Beginners guide to vintage art deco butterfly wing jewellery jewelry

ABOVE: A vintage crinoline lady butterfly wing brooch, which was a particularly popular subject in jewellery during the 1930s and 40s. To make this piece, a solid glass cover was reverse painted on the underside, and placed on top of a Morpho butterfly wing to create the blue dress effect.


Beginners guide to vintage art deco butterfly wing jewellery jewelry

ABOVE: Butterfly jewellery wasn’t just made from the Morpho butterfly – other species were used too. This  art deco butterfly wing brooch is made with an unidentified silvery wing; although it’s rarer that blue Morpho butterfly wing jewellery, it is not as desirable.


In its heyday, butterfly wing jewelry was in demand around the world, with butterfly farms even being set up in Europe to meet demand.  Common subjects of the period were:

  • Dutch scenes (windmills, national costumes) from Europe
  • ‘Crinoline’ dressed ladies, often from England.
  • Cactus and deserts , from the USA
  • Birds and animals, from Europe and South America
  • Tropical and beach scenes from Europe and South America.

Beginners guide to vintage art deco butterfly wing jewellery jewelry tips

Above: An art deco butterfly wing bar brooch.


Butterfly wing jewelry is still being made today, using butterflies from butterfly farms. Specimens die naturally of old age (after around 130 days), and are then carefully collected for projects. There is also a fascinating aspect of creating butterfly farms as a form of much needed environmental protection of endangered rainforest, as explained by the butterfly specialists at Butterfly Utopia.

“Our butterflies come from butterfly farms and ranching projects from all over the world (mainly South America, Africa and South East Asia). These farms provide the natives of the countries with an excellent source of income and prevent them from destroying the rainforest to clear land for cattle raising, logging etc. Eggs laid on leaves in the wild rainforests are collected and hatched in the farms. In the wild, only a very small percentage (about 5%) of butterfly eggs survive to adulthood. Butterfly farms have much higher survival rates, approximately 80%. Habitat protection is also important because butterfly caterpillars will only eat certain plants from their habitat, so these plants are also collected. Most of the less colorful female butterflies hatched on farms are released into the wild to lay more eggs in a rainforest that would have been destroyed years ago if not for the protection of the farms.”

Above, quote from Butterfly Utopia.


vintag butterfly wing earrings jewellery

Art deco butterfly wing earrings

butterfly wing for jewellery making

A piece of Morpho butterfly wing, taken from an old brooch I was repairing. Butterfly wings must be handled with great care, as the moisture on skin can damage and discolour it if touched.


Vintage butterfly wing brooch singed Exquisite

The big jewellery companies of the 1950s and 60s loved using butterfly wings in their jewellery. This brooch was made by the famous old UK designers ‘Exquisite’ during the 1960s – note how well the butterfly wing has lasted, compared with what’s left of the the faux pearls and marcasite which surround it.

Brand new butterfly wing jewellery has a stunning rich colour and vividness that takes your breath away, and with care it will last a lifetime. Be careful,when purchasing second hand butterfly wing jewellery as needs careful study before purchase – it occasionally suffers from colour fading or dark patches, which affect the value of the piece.


vintage art deco butterfly wing bar brooch jewelry

Dark patches on an art deco butterfly wing brooch – this is undesirable.

Vintage butterfly wing pendant

This vintage butterfly pendant shows a Dutch scene. Note the faded patches near the top of the sky, again  this is not desirable to collectors.


Butterfly wing jewellery is easy to clean and take care of: store it safely away from direct sunlight if it’s not going to be worn for a while, and never wash nor soak it in water, as moisture will ruin the wing – simply wipe down the protective clear cover with a clean dry cloth.


Further reading:

Butterflies And Art has a fascinating article on how butterfly farms can help both the environment and the people living in it.