I’m bugging out.
Last week, when I put out a call for (and subsequently spotlighted) cicada jewelry, I received a number of submissions featuring scarabs. And they were way too good not to share.
The scarab is actually a family of beetles of many different varieties. There’s the june bug, which is a massive insect I have vivid memories of from my childhood. The Japanese beetle, an invasive creature accidentally introduced to the United States in the early 1900s that has the reputation of being a major pest by all standards. The dung beetle, which, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see it in action, is as gross as it is cool as hell (this is also the beetle worshipped by ancient Egyptians). And the rhinoceros beetle, which is gorgeous to look at, and also a wee bit scary.
It’s no wonder bug collectors prize this family of insects—with such a variety and incredible range of shapes and colors, scarab beetles are a wonder to see. Which truly makes them the perfect subject for jewelers.
We love our symbolism in jewelry, and the scarab is rife with it. It’s one of the few bug-centric styles I actually long to wear (aside from my cute little ladybugs), due to its importance in and association with Egyptian culture (in which I am highly interested).
Thanks to one of my all-time favorite films, 1999’s The Mummy, you might have a bit of a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to scarabs. But in reality, for the ancient Egyptians, the dung beetle represented the ideas of manifestation, existence, development, and growth, concepts that were represented as amulets throughout all periods of Egyptian history. They were placed within the bandages of mummies, carved out of stones like turquoise and carnelian, stamped into clay and dirt. The internet has a lot about how the people’s worship of this little beast was based on a lot of misinformation, but there is also evidence to prove that the insects are quite fantastical little creatures.
Today, having learned a bit more about these insects, we may not look upon them with the same reverence as the ancient Egyptians. But the love remains for their bejeweled and gilded counterparts, with deeply ingrained symbolism and beauty that is too good to resist.
Top: Scarab bunch earrings in 18k yellow gold and sterling silver with tsavorite, brown diamonds, and scarab wings, $13,208; Bibi Van Der Velden
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