Insect gems

Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata (Nouvelle-Guinée)
Credit: Insectarium de Montréal (René Limoges)
Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata (Nouvelle-Guinée)
  • Metaxymorpha nigrofasciata (Nouvelle-Guinée)
  • Chrysochroa ephippigera (Vietnam)
  • Chrysina aurigans (Costa Rica)
Insect gems

Written on December 4, 2014

For the longest time, the beauty and magnificence of insects have been a source of inspiration for painters, sculptors, writers and artists in general. When you see some of them, it’s no surprise to learn that shamans, the populations of various tribes and the jewelers of today have all used and continue to use insects as raw material – as “precious stones” that they transform into magnificent necklaces, earrings and other pieces of jewelry.

And really, insects, and particularly beetles because of their hard shells and elytra (wing cases), are true living “precious stones.” The scientific or common names of certain beetles are directly connected to the beauty and the glow of the colors or metallic highlights that are such a delight to see.

Worthy of note among these is the radiance – as vivid as gold or silver – of the scarab beetles Chrysina resplendens, C. chrysargyrea, Chrysophora chrysocholora and Pelidnota sumptuosa. The adjectives in these names of Greek origin mean “gold,” “silver,” “golden”, “bearing gold and green-gold” and “splendid.” Renowned jewelers like Cartier, Robert Phillips and Fabergé created magnificent brooches for queens and other monarchs incorporating beetles.

Another group of beetles that can easily bear comparison with the scarabs is the borer family. These also possess bright elytra, with metallic multicolored highlights. The sun hitting these insect gems reveals a palette of magical colors. The literature mentions that Japan was using these beetles as jewels as early as the year 650! In India, the use of borer-beetle elytra goes back to 1600.

Some of these insect gems are among the most beautiful living jewels on the planet and are still dreamed of today thanks to their thousand ornaments.

To learn more about the essential role of insects and arthropods
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1 Comment(s)
Tyrone Wagner's picture
Tyrone Wagner

Thanks for the contribution; it made my day.
It took me a very long time to find coreball all this information.

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