In recent years, it has become quite popular for various vendors to advertise and sell real butterfly jewelry. Although many vendors are careful to only sell jewelry made from butterflies born, raised, and passed away naturally on humane butterfly farms, some vendors are not so careful so if you are environmentally sensitive, be sure to ask the vendor where they get their butterflies from before purchasing.
Historically speaking, there have been three types of butterfly jewelry on the market: laminated wings, wings encased in cases covered with glass, and wings dipped in resin. All of these are typically used for earrings but they are occasionally found for use in necklaces as well. Only recently has a fourth version of real butterfly jewelry arrived in the marketplace. Before addressing the newbie, let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of traditional real butterfly jewelry.
While laminated butterfly jewelry varies somewhat in quality, the biggest difference that you may want to consider is selection. All laminated products yellow with age so prolonged exposure to the sun will eventually render the jewelry unattractive – prolonged exposure to the sun will slowly fade the colors on the original butterfly wing as well. If you are wearing them in primarily indoor venues, they should last quite a while before yellowing and losing their beauty. Although they are fairly durable as you might expect, the lamination will eventually start to curl or peel apart slightly and will produce a frayed edge. Of course, with lamination comes glossy texture, so you also lose some of the natural beauty of the butterfly – but not much. Generally speaking though, these are minor critiques – the big differences between vendors is their selection of butterfly wings. Look for a vendor that carries dozens of species rather than only a few. Of all butterfly jewelry, this type is often the least expensive, so finding a vendor with a great selection and a good price is not too difficult.
Wings Encased in Glass Cases
Real butterfly jewelry encased in glass cases makes durability a non-issue when compared to laminated products. Although some few vendors carry cheap cases that may even unexpectedly pop open if you are not careful, most butterfly jewelry sold in this fashion comes in attractive (usually silver) cases that surround a portion of the butterfly wing. This preserves the natural beauty of the butterfly wing for a very long time. However, jewelry of this nature almost never allows you to see the entire butterfly wing and often produces a fairly heavy earring. Further, when real butterfly wings are used, prolonged exposure to the sun will slowly fade until the original colors are lost forever – this is a problem with laminated products as well. Despite the fact that UV protected acrylic sheets are available on the market, it appears that no vendor uses this technology to make this type of butterfly jewelry last longer or to make the earrings less heavy. In short, your taste in which cases are the most attractive is the biggest factor when looking for butterfly jewelry encased in glass cases – the selection of butterfly wings is less crucial with this genre of jewelry because the whole wing is almost never used so many people will not even notice that the jewelry is made from real butterfly wings. Of all butterfly jewelry, this type is often the most expensive.
Butterfly Wings in Resin or Lucite Cases
Real butterfly jewelry dipped in resin or Lucite varies drastically in quality. Some butterfly wings are so badly damaged in the process that you can barely tell that it is a butterfly wing encased in a plastic coating at all. Others preserve the beauty of the wing fabulously. Generally speaking, the better the product, the higher the price; there are some exceptions but you will have to shop around to find them. Although this product is more durable than the laminated products, it has the same problems with discoloration – both the resin/Lucite coating and the butterfly wing discolor over time – and it tends to make a heavy earring as well. Few vendors offer much selection with this product so you may not have the same ability to be picky about which species that you would like to wear.
The Newbie: Natural Looking Real Butterfly Wing Earrings
There is only one vendor in the world that offers these fabulous products. Like the laminated wings described above, this product features whole butterfly wings rather than a small portion of the wing, which allows for a better view of the butterfly’s natural beauty. There are at least two big differences between the treated butterfly earrings and the standard laminated earring: first, the butterfly wing (in its pristine natural state) is exposed for viewing, which uniquely preserves the natural beauty of the butterfly wing just as it looked when the butterfly was alive; second, this product is generally best for nice dinners, formal occasions, or special gatherings – they are absolutely perfect for weddings – rather than every day use.
Whether you are interested in earrings, hair clips, butterfly roses (butterflies mounted on a floral stem), or other custom jewelry, you should be aware that they come in two varieties: “any occasion” and “special occasion.”
Special Occasion (a.k.a. Natural)
Special occasion butterflies have only been through half of the unique preservation process. This means that the jewelry exposed to the viewer’s eye will look precisely like it did when the butterfly was alive! They are thoroughly gorgeous and absolutely exquisite! This also means that the jewelry is more delicate – the wings are liable to scratches and rubs and are more likely to break than any occasion jewelry (see below). Although the wings are bendable, touching the wings can rub off scales and make the butterfly look aged so it is best to only touch the clip portion of the hair clip (or boutonniere) or the earring post as much as reasonably possible. This type of jewelry is referred to as “special occasion” for two reasons: first, this is an absolutely stunning new product that will dazzle your friends and second, because the real wing is exposed to touch, they may not be suitable for more extensive activities. Consider these your Cinderella slippers!
Any Occasion (a.k.a. Glossy)
The “any occasion” preservation process makes the butterflies flexible enough to be handled (with reasonable care) and lightly waterproof. These butterflies are intended for regular (non-athletic use in mild weather). You should note that with some species, the natural coloring of the butterfly wings does darken somewhat during the plasticization process so look at the final product picture or speak with a specialist before ordering. With some species, this process actually enhances the look of the butterfly wing (imagine a stain glass butterfly wing) but usually, you are best to look for the natural coating.
Because of this unique technology, earrings are not the only possibility – hair clips can also be made of real butterflies (antennae included if you want) and there are also real “butterfly roses.” If you want to get noticed, these hair clips will surely not fail you – brand new to the market and designed to look like a butterfly just landed in your hair to take a rest, this is a very unique hair product. Add to your hair clip a butterfly rose and you are ready for your wedding reception too!
Remember, although this new butterfly jewelry is not as durable as other forms of jewelry, damages are often repairable so these are not “disposable” items that you throw away after your first use. Nevertheless, you should not expect this jewelry to last a lifetime. However, if you order a hair clip or butterfly rose for some special occasion that you want to remember, the vendor can custom preserve the butterfly in a display to mount on your wall so they can be preserved for a lifetime.
Care of Natural Looking Real Butterfly Wing Earrings
Another small con: care of this jewelry is a little more intensive than other forms of real butterfly jewelry (it is not difficult though, just unfamiliar) so before making your customized order, make sure to read up on how to care for your stunning earrings – that way, they will last longer and retain the natural and stunning beauty of the real butterfly.