The Victorians were great fans of novelty jewelry. Ornaments of curiosity were designed with consideration for beauty and color, but also with the intent to amuse and delight the wearer. Such eccentric styles include mounted hummingbird heads, tiny golden renderings of mice, and bejeweled spiders, just to name a few. This c. 1880 English necklace was made during the first Egyptian revival and would have been classed as a "Cleopatra ornament", though it bears little resemblance to the jewels of Ancient Egypt, and in fact, these (real) beetles were most likely imported from South America. This pinchbeck collar is composed of finely mounted scarab beetles in open settings.
from the archive