A timeless favorite, butterfly jewelry is often breathtakingly beautiful – and highly symbolic.

Consider how the humble caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon. After about ten days it emerges as a butterfly, the once-earthbound dweller now free to flit from leaf to leaf. This spectacular metamorphosis speaks to our own potential for growth and transformation.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the butterfly has charmed jewelry designers for centuries. We now invite you to soar across the decades and gaze at some bejeweled beauties.

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Buzz Gray and Bernardine Johnston, the creators of this complex brooch, are famous for selecting and cutting unusual gemstones mined from remote locales. Their masterful handiwork and gemstone selection makes this butterfly take flight.

The vivid orange spessartine that is the body stands in sharp contrast to its delicate enamel wings, giving it a luminous glow. Black accents on the wings fall in symmetrical patterns, which are exceptionally difficult to create. These are some of the little details that make this a masterpiece.

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Orange spessartine garnets brighten this brooch, along with colorless diamonds and green tsavorite garnets. Courtesy of Buzz Gray and Bernardine Johnston.

Diamond cutting methods were rudimentary when this antique piece (circa 1850) was made, but notice how the diamonds in the wings are graduated in size, starting as small flecks at the base and growing to larger rose-cut ones at the tips. This accomplishment would have been quite a challenge back then, and shows the craftsmanship of the designer.

Another nice embellishment is the scalloped edges of the wings, which give the butterfly a lifelike appearance. The brooch was probably worn with pearls or ribbons, or as a hairpiece.

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Courtesy of the Neil Lane Collection.

A beautifully cut peridot and a garnet comprise the body of this luminous butterfly. The asymmetrical patterns in the wings are reminiscent of Art Nouveau jewelry; the use of negative space in the wings evokes veins.

One novel quality about this piece is that the wings are on springs, so they move with the wearer – an impressive and difficult design feat. This makes the butterfly more than a static creation, but something that flutters to life when touched by motion.

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Body is a 12.24 carat peridot. Wings are peridot and diamonds. Eyes sparkle with spessartine garnets. Courtesy of Buzz Gray and Bernardine Johnston.

This exquisite butterfly is particularly lifelike. Two rose-cut diamonds at the tip of the wings imitate the camouflage patterns of real butterflies.

Brilliant magenta and cobalt-blue garnets that are the wings make for spectacular contrasts, and reveal exceptional micro-pavé work. The blackened gold antenna is a soothing counterpoint to the crash of colors.

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Butterfly brooch in 18K blackened gold with articulated wings and accented with rose cut diamonds, round diamonds, pink and blue sapphires and tsavorite garnets. Gift of Dr. Gary R. and Barbara E. Hansen.

These butterfly designs are a testament to jewelry inspiration and innovation. Tell us which looks make your hearts go aflutter!

*Main image of pearl butterfly courtesy of Paula Crevoshay.