Looking for some unusual jewellery? Think beaks, claws and paws. Adele Baxby writes about her obsession with vintage animal jewellery and talks us through what kind of beastly accessories were fashionable for each decade.

Pushing through the leafy greens and muddy browns I finally find what I was looking for as two sparkling red eyes glint between the camouflage. But it’s not the rainforest I am trekking through, rather a basket of silk scarves in a local vintage store. And the beady eyes are smouldering red crystals rather than those belonging to a beast waiting to pounce.

I have been fixated with animal jewellery ever since Gordon, a vintage owl pendant I once owned. With his black crystal feathers and wise silver ears I’d never seen jewellery that interesting and individual before. After only three short years, Gordon’s head fell off; I was bereft and have since filled the gap with many winged, pawed, scaled and fluffy alternatives.

Pre WW2

Animals in jewellery have always been a popular theme and as far back as 1910, unusual and curious creatures have adorned women. I recently found an antique hat pin featuring a huge beetle with a jewelled prothorax on a trip to a local antique shop. Quite surprising that the wealthiest women would walk around with something that could easily be a dung beetle affixed to their heads.

This lizard brooch (left) from the Thirties made from Bakelite is another example of the era’s love of exotic animals.

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