Animal jewellery exibition at American Museum of Natural History

Updated: Feb 4


Let’s embark on a story of 150 years of different bejeweled animals that have been in trend at different times. Today, I want to highlight the amazing exhibition in the Museum of Natural History New York, made by Marion Fasel. What we will see here are more than 100 beautiful, intricate jeweled creatures from famous artisans and jewelry Maisons like Cartier, Van Cleef&Arpels, Tiffany&Co., Verdura, Suzanne Belperron, Joel Arthur Rosenthal since the19th century until today's Glenn Spiro Beyonce 'Papillon' Ring and Wallace Chan butterfly escapade.

We will have a glance at the incredible "Beautiful Creatures" exhibition curated by Marion Fasel with famous jewellery designs of animals. She has been researching for years in a private collection, museums, and famous jewellery Maisons archives.

The entire recreation of animal jewels represents an interpretation of particular times with their political affairs, wars or peace, the sought-after science of a specific decade, and many others.

Every design was linked back to some sort of context, gems that were popular or loved animals for various reasons.

Let's begging our journey with the butterfly effect. Butterflies are associated with femininity, delicacy, and rebirth and in19th century were some of the most appreciated insects.


Joel Arthur Rosenthal, was fascinated with gems, minerals, and nature. For his winged creatures, he chose unusual gems and structures. The butterfly brooch created in 1987 revealed one-of-a-kind Montana sapphires and white diamonds. As a central stone, he used a cushion-cut diamond surrounded by smaller light-pink diamonds.





Another iconic piece that we should focus our attention on is the Suzanne Belperron multicolored butterflies dating back to 1930 when an explosion of color has been recorded. In the exhibition, there are 6 butterfly brooches with beautiful designs.


This spectacular multicolored butterfly brooch features all colors of sapphires, the lush green of beryls, the fantastic strong saturated tourmalines all set on gold and enhanced by enamels.

The second work of art is the intricated structure of Wallace Chan butterfly. The new materials and inventions of the 21st century are reflected in art and this one is a masterpiece of our times. The jewel is part of


the series of Forever Dancing butterflies or we can call it 'the one that trembles' and contains fancy colored diamonds, rock crystal, mother-of-pearl with edges made of titanium. The revolutionary titanium has been bringing great lightness and colorful forms to the world of jewellery. Titanium has all the advantages as it can take any color and is floating like a feather but the workability it's almost impossible.


'En Tremblant' meaning to tremble is the form of bringing real movement to a jewellery piece. All animal designs dating back to the Edwardian period until today and selected for Mario's exhibition had the surprise factor of trembling with vibration and movement of the wearer.


Stag beetle brooch1895 Boucheron; grasshopper ring1900 Lucien Gaillard; leaf weevil brooch1893 Tiffany & Co.; dragonfly brooch1904 Tiffany & Co.; bee pin1946 Van Cleef & Arpels; dragonfly clip brooch1953 Cartier; fly pin1880–1910 Tiffany & Co.



The famous 'Oiseau en Cage' brooch by Jeanne Toussaint designer of Cartier has been a symbol of the German occupation during World War II. When she displayed the design in the store's window on 13 Rue de la Paix, Paris she was questioned about the ostentatious negative advertising but her answer was: " it was an old one". In reality, it wasn't she wanted to capture the difficulty of France during the war. A bird containing the colors of the country's flag is trapped in a cage.

At the end of the war the jewel was redesigned with the birds singing and the cage door open.

The kingfisher clip brooch, in the center, is a symbol of peace and prosperity and it was designed by the Maison's in 1941.





Fulco di Verdura's lion’s paw shell brooches full of paved diamonds have been quintessential of 1941's design. The designer shared a secret with The New Yorker: “What I get a kick out of is to buy a shell for five dollars, use half of it, and sell it for twenty-five hundred.” The impressive imagination of Verdura can be creating history as a natural ocean live force was transformed into a jewellery adornment.





Another interesting legend holds the story on the Mexican actress María Félix entering Cartier boutique in 1975 with two live baby crocodiles. Her idea was to recreate the babies into glamourous neckless. Cartier an innovative and astonishing jewellery house reproduced to the exact shape, texture, and color of the little animals. One animal is paved with green emeralds and the other one was full of yellow diamonds. The power of creation and Cartier's minds went beyond any expectations, not only did they recreate to perfection the crocodiles but they made a multifunctional, versatile piece. The neckless could be worn as one piece or as two separate brooches.


One of the 20th century’s most gifted artists Jean Schlumberger created in 1967 La Méduse, an impressive marine animal as a surprise for his dear friend the philanthropist Bunny Mellon. They were a very good friend and Bunny shared with Jonny as she called him that she was stung by a big jellyfish in her favorite place in the world Antigua by the Mill Reef Club

With a realistic and impressive structure, this work of art is covered in moonstones to recreate the fluorescence of a jellyfish. Chased gold and baguette-cut sapphire tentacles the creature is an iconic creation.




Fasel exhibition was avant-garde, inspirational and iconic. “Beautiful Creatures” encompasses insects, powerful animals like the Cartier panthers, snakes, crocodiles, birds of freedom and it is the perfect recreation of the natural habitat with its biodiversity.

Marion Fasel’s book “Beautiful Creatures: Jewelry Inspired by the Animals Kingdom” was written to transform a temporary exhibition into a longlisting one and is available to buy online here or directly on Amazon. My videos and reels on this subject here






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