Nature is bountiful! Many artists take inspiration from nature but the best example of this is jewellery. Jewellery and nature have gone together since prehistoric times when the very stuff that jewellery was made from came directly from things easily found – shells, bones, leaves, feathers, stones etc. and then later, animals themselves became the inspiration.
Believe it or not even live insects were used in jewellery until not so long ago. The Ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to have worn insects as jewellery; their soldiers commonly wore scarab beetles into battle as they were considered to have supernatural powers of protection against enemies.
In modern times Mexico and Madagascar have both used beetles, decorated with gold and semi precious gemstones they are attached to a decorative safety pin by a chain. Not surprisingly Animal Rights organisations have been opposing this practice for some time and it is now very rare.
In this blog I am looking particularly at the influence of creatures in the world of jewellery.
Today the honeybee is one of the most popular influences on jewellery design, unsurprisingly perhaps as it plays such an important part in all our lives and its own life holds such a fascination for us. They are also part of symbolism. The hexagon, the shape of the honeycomb, has 6 sides, #6 is symbolic of love (it was a sacred number for the goddess Venus). In some cultures, the bee is also representative of fertility, beauty and wisdom. Bill Skinner is a designer based in Kent whose Honeybee designs have become iconic. He has produced designs for some of the most famous Jewellers such as Asprey, Garrards, Van Clef and Arpels as well as the legendary fashion designer Vivienne Westwood but he is one among many that have been attracted by this busy little insect!
Bill Skinner Honeycomb & Bee Cuff, Honeycomb & Bee Orb,
Baby Bee Pendant & Bee Studs; Cinderela B Honeybee Bracelet
Chaumet Abeille Bee - White Opal, Sapphires, Citrine,
18th Century - Jeweller to
Napoleon Bonaparte who
adopted the bee
as as his emblem.
Butterflies are often very beautiful but they do of course start life as a caterpillar. Not surprising perhaps then that butterflies are symbolic of new beginnings; often connected to the Law of Attraction they represent potential and transformation. Where the caterpillar inches along, the butterfly soars! The designs from brands Muru and Lucky Eyes are always meaningful, indeed Phil Barnes of Muru brings us a variety of Talismans of which the butterfly is just one that comes from nature.
Birds are another popular source of inspiration and symbolism. Owls, unsurprisingly, are symbols of wisdom; the Hummingbird a symbol of love and the Swallow a symbol of freedom but more generally birds are associated with grace and beauty.
Bill Skinner Night Owl Pendant, Muru Swallow Pendant,
Muru Hummingbird Earrings, Bill Skinner Double Bird Pendant
All sorts of other animals have been represented in jewellery throughout history and continue to charm us often reflecting cultures, lifestyles and our fondness for pets.
Reeves & Reeves Hare and Fox Pendants, Bill Skinner Horse,
Muru Elephant stretch bracelet, Bill Skinner Kittens.
Fun, creativity and symbolism – all there in nature!
These are just a few examples of the creativity shown by jewellery designers over the centuries that continue to this day. Jewellery has always been symbolic and meaningful as well as enormously decorative. The choice offered by these craftspeople is amazing and with nature as their inspiration, boundless! You are always assured of finding something that speaks of your personality and your loves.