From gold and diamonds to peacock feathers, the fashion pack are forever in search of the latest statement piece of jewellery to complement their look, with expensive gemstones and unusual textures coming together to create unique earrings, necklaces and bracelets that can’t help but wow.
We’ve seen some rather questionable trends over the years, but one that has been making waves amongst designers and fashionistas alike over the past year is the incorporation of real butterflies into a range of different pieces, ranging from small and dainty to chunky and overstated.
Strictly speaking, real butterfly wing jewellery isn’t new, and we’ve seen it in various iterations over the years. Found laminated, encased in glass or dipped in resin, butterfly wings have long been a sought-after feature for pendant necklaces and lightweight earrings, and each method of preserving these delicate pieces involves using sustainable practices*.
More recently, a fourth generation of butterfly jewellery has been introduced to the market, and with a focus on remaining realistic and natural-looking, has served as the catalyst for renewed interest in this unique jewellery choice.
If you’re looking to invest in a piece of traditional, real butterfly necklace jewellery then the options can feel overwhelming – so let’s take a look at all you need to know to make the right choice.
Laminated butterfly wings
Laminated butterfly wing jewellery can vary in quality, and as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. But nonetheless, it invariably comes with a glossy finish and an all-round sophisticated feel, preserving the wings and keeping them looking pristine.
Laminate products will slowly yellow and fade over time, so avoid prolonged sun exposure to keep them looking their best for as long as possible. The lamination itself can eventually begin to curl or peel away slightly, leaving a frayed edge – but otherwise, laminated butterfly wing jewellery is fairly durable.
Look for a vendor that carries more than just a handful of species to ensure maximum choice – and be prepared to part with your cash for the very best.
Glass-encased butterfly jewellery
When authentic butterfly jewellery is encased within glass cases, durability is much improved when compared with laminated alternatives. Commonly housed in attractive (usually sterling) cases that protect a portion of the butterfly’s wing, for a more extravagant iteration, look for gold or silver-encrusted options for the utmost in glamour.
Glass casing protects the natural beauty and integrity of the butterfly wings for a long time. On the downside, however, this style of butterfly jewellery is often very heavy and does not allow you to see the whole butterfly wing due to the opacity of the back. If real butterflies wings are used, the colours will fade slowly and eventually become lost forever.
Although UV-protected acrylic sheets are readily available and can help slow the process, there is no way to preserve it indefinitely. This type of butterfly jewellery is also usually the most expensive, but you’ll enjoy increased longevity, if only somewhat, as a result.
Lucite or resin-encased butterfly jewellery
The quality of authentic butterfly jewellery made with Lucite or resin can vary greatly. Some butterfly wings can be so damaged that it’s hard to tell that they are encased with plastic, while others manage to stunningly preserve wings in their original state.
This style is more robust than laminated products, but once again, eventual discoloration is sadly inevitable. In this case, the yellowing and fading applies not just to the wings themselves, but also to the casing – which can cheapen the jewellery and make it appear of lesser quality. For this reason, it’s best avoided amongst those seeking luxury and who aren’t afraid to splurge to get the very best.
Realistic, natural-looking butterfly wing earrings
This final option is the newest to arrive on the market, and is responsible for butterfly jewellery’s recent return to favour. Beyond that, it has become an all-out Instagram craze amongst wealthy influencers, and it certainly isn’t difficult to see why.
Currently available from just one vendor, this style aims to present the whole butterfly in as natural a form as possible, without distracting from its natural texture or beauty and results in an elegant and sophisticated necklace, bracelet or pair of earrings. Because this kind of butterfly jewellery is so delicate, it must be treated with the utmost of care – but makes for a beautiful choice for special occasions and formal events.
*Make sure you choose a retailer who uses sustainable methods. The butterflies used in this type of jewellery generally come from butterfly farming projects and rain forest sustainable use systems. Butterflies are able to live out their natural lives and are then harvested, preserving their glorious beauty for our appreciation, while sustaining their populations and preserving their natural habitat.