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Green iridized scarab beetle

I had a client bring me in a stick pin that she purchased which she
was told was from the 1920’s. It was described as a green iridized
scarab beetle. The box that contained the stick pin had O.D. Gunn
Jeweler, Biloxi, Miss on it. The cup shaped base that the "Beetle"
was prong set into is gold filled. Does anyone have any more
about this item? Is it a preserved (now dead) beetle or
something else? She would like to reset it into gold of another
design-is it fragile?

David Ginis
Ginis Goldsmiths
136 Ashman Circle


Yep, it’s a real beastie. You can purchase them at places like
Evolution in NYC, where you can also buy just the iridescent wings of
another type of beetle. I don’t frankly know whether jewelers of the
time simply dried the dead beetles or whether they might have
injected the body with some sort of stabilizer such as wax. However,
scarab-beetle jewelry exists going back centuries (Egyptians) and
seems to have held up pretty well.

I’ve worked with the wings themselves rather than the whole beetle.
They are quite brittle to work with, but should hold up pretty well
with appropriate care. Scarab beetle jewelry was quite popular in a
couple of trendy periods, including the 20s, with the whole
Egyptology craze.

Hope this helps!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs

Scarab and other Egyptian theme jewelry was very popular in the
1920’s following the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Yes, real scarab
beetles were used. But scarab likenesses were carved from various
stones and made from glass and faience (tin glazed pottery) as well.
The real thing, glass, and faience all could exhibit iridescence.
With close examination you should be able to tell what material this
scarab is.

Dale Molloy