Victorian tortoise beetle brooch. Set horizontally with three iridescent Brazilian tortoise leaf beetles graduating in size from the centre in closed backclaw settings, to a novelty beetle brooch featuring two ivy leaf motifs with a gold bead and wire stem, each beetle collet mounted on two horizontal parallel bars and secured to the reverse with hinged pin and c-clasp. Tested yellow gold, English, circa 1875.
So-called "novelty" jewellery became popular in the late nineteenth century. Some jewellery of this type reflected a curiosity about the natural world, with examples featuring actual specimen of wildlife, such as colourful beetles, as seen in the present piece, and hummingbirds. Two jewellers are known to have exhibited such items at the 1872 London Exhibition. A rare survival, a bracelet and a brooch set with the same beetles are in the collection of the Norwich Castle Museum.