When children visit Silvio’s booth at the Jeffersonville Festival of The Arts each summer, they rarely fail to notice the bugs; microdermied beetles used in jewelry making, that is.
These are used as gemstones and look stunning in both silver and gold settings. Children and adults ask many questions about these unique gems. Since the most recent article made a reference to Egyptian Scarab Jewelery, this is a good time to pause and answer those questions.
The word “Microdermy” does not appear to be in the dictionary. “Derma” refers to skin. As you might know, bugs do not have skin; they have an external skeleton. Nonetheless, you have guessed by now that “microdermy” refers to taxidermy at a microscopic level.
“These beetles come from all around the world,” explains Silvio. “Some are scarabs and some are wood-boring beetles. It’s easy to tell them apart. The scarab has a triangle-shaped scale on its back, between the wings and the head.”
“They are filled with a special resin, but the shiny surface is all natural. There is no paint or lacquer involved. This is the actual skeleton or skin of the beetle,” remarks Silvio. “The beetle is taken apart, carefully, to clean out the insides. Usually the top is removed. Some keep the bottom, some don’t. I have some of both here. When the inside is clean, it is filled with the resin and put back together, but this has to be done very carefully because any air bubble will make the beetle crack. The skeleton is very thin.”
It is easy to see how ancient civilizations might have been impressed by the beauty and radiance of beetles. They look like mysterious beings from other worlds and have the ability to inspire fear and reverence in human beings, in spite of our drastically larger size. Like the “microdermists” who make the special resin used in their trade, the beetle holds on to its secrets.
Also Read: Jewelry – From The Beginning – Part 4