Please Bug Me!

[Janet Zapata is a decorative arts historian who specializes in American jewelry and silver. She is a consultant to Christie's auction house, the Newark Museum and the Louis C. Tiffany Museum in Nagoya, Japan. She also lectures in the graduate program at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City, writes for several antiques magazines and is the author of the book The Jewelry and Enamels of Louis C. Tiffany (Harry N. Abrams, New York City, 1993).] Jewelry with insect motifs has been popular throughout most of history, starting as early as the Middle Kingdom in ancient Egypt when amuletic scarabs were worn for protection. Until the 18th century, their role was chiefly symbolic. Thus when the Barberinis of Italy and the Bonapartes of France wished to represent the attributes of activity, diligence and hard work on their family crests, they showed a bee, which symbolizes these qualities.

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