Jewelry lovers must thank the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation (of the Kaplan Learning Center fame) for opening a gallery specifically devoted to the display of jewelry, and for hiring Yvonne Markowitz, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry. We have these people to thank for bringing us examples of some of the more bizarre pieces of jewelry ever known to man.
Entomological and ornithological jewelry was very popular during the mid to late 19th century and was viewed as one of the ways for women to reconnect with nature as the onset of the industrial age crept up on them. Women’s magazines encouraged women to skin and mount their own creations, while more intricate and upscale pieces were made by jewelers. I’m sure you were laying low if you were the family dog during these times.
So it’s no wonder women of the Victorian era were thought to swoon…they were probably driven insane by the endless sound of flapping hummingbird wings hovering on the sides of their heads. Oh, they were stuffed you say? There goes my vision of no earring hardware needed – just birds, endlessly fidgeting, suspended on your lobes.
When I think of gems and pearls, especially earrings, I think of the time it takes to find two perfectly matching stones – in size, color and quality. Just think about finding perfectly matching hummingbirds. I’ve seen less than ten in my lifetime, let alone enough birds to make a matching pair of earrings and brooch. And think of the poor taxidermist who had to stuff these things. I guess it’s pretty amazing what you can do with eyebrow tweezers and a cotton ball. This suite of jewelry gives a whole new meaning to Angry Birds.
|Brooch in gold with foliate design and mounted head of hummingbirds with ruby eyes and gold beak; matching earrings.|