Butterflies metamorphose into jewellery

Paryana Puspaputra

2 September 2020

Paryana Puspaputra works in partnership with a Butterfly Park to make precious jewels from the broken wings they leave behind.

The beauty of a butterfly is known from the time when human eyes can see. The butterfly is known not only for its beauty but also for its life stages. A visual change or metamorphose means that this species is always in danger. It is vulnerable as a caterpillar, since is appears ugly people often kill them. On the other hand, when it becomes a butterfly, most people like them because of its look and beauty. To retain its beauty, people try to catch and keep them in the place where they can see anytime they want.

Legend of butterfly’s beauty is expressed by artists in their design, from a sketch in black and white, colourful painting and beautiful angle of the photograph, or in precious moment video. Unfortunately, the number of species of butterfly is gradually decreasing. Environmental and climate change and an increase in human population make butterfly survival more difficult. If we do not care about their population and species, maybe we cannot see then in the near future.

In jewellery design, artists try to use materials such as gemstone, pearl, silver or gold wire to produce a butterfly’s appearance. People try to bring butterfly into their life in any form in their lives.

The idea of the Butterfly Jewellery Project started from my visit to Alian Butterfly Park at Kebumen Regency of Jawa Tengah – Indonesia, an amazing place to see many beautiful species of butterfly that live in a net covered park. The educational park is located in a beautiful village with a unique hot spring (salt, sulphur, ammonia, etc.) right in front of the park.

Beyond the beauty of the butterfly, they actually have a short period in life, they live only for two weeks. Butterfly wings have beautiful colours, but they are very fragile. They will easily be broken when hit another object or be subject to decay. Butterfly wings are most beautiful when they are alive. When people want to keep their beauty, for example in a framed insectarium for souvenir or so, they have to catch and frame them alive. That is against the spirit of preservation.

There is a dilemma or controversy when trying to take the beauty of the butterfly directly: taking the whole body that means killing them. On the other hand, if we keep them alive then we will get a complex problem related to the lifecycle and cost.

If the dead butterfly wing is broken and cannot be used as a souvenir then do not throw them out. Perfect is perfect: when the beauty of butterflies is perfect then the beauty of a part of it is perfect too. We should use our creativity to make it perfect then people will appreciate that it is perfect.

Jewellery design is a creative activity that developed an idea into an aesthetic product. It combines shape, line and other primitive geometry which it arranges into a creative form to produce an object of beauty. The gemstone is a good example because it exists in nature in a random size, shape and colour, but it is then cut into a specific shape and designers use them for design.

The idea of gemstone cutting is the inspiration for the development of the butterfly project. Nature gives us plenty of basic shapes in the form of moon, leaf, eyes, and so on, which is inspiration for jewellery. Using that concept, small basic shapes are used to take a part of dead butterfly’s wing, hence broken wing is not a consideration anymore. This idea makes the broken wings still can be used and butterfly life is saved.

The cut butterfly wing is then framed with silver and jewellery designer can use the framed butterfly wing’s part as the same way they utilize gemstone. Some examples of the product are shown in the following pictures.

There are problems in the realisation of that idea since material properties of the wing is difficult to be cut. Strong handling will brake the wing, while loose handling will tear the wing because there will be relative motion between clamping material and wing. Moreover, high temperature in soldering the silver frame and water blocking component to cover the wings is another manufacturing problem

This project is just an initiation for the idea of how jewellery can be a new phase in butterfly’s metamorphoses. With the new performance of butterfly as shown at the above pictures. The dead butterfly will donate their beautiful wings to we humans as a form of jewellery. The value that is generated from the jewellery business is then used to protect the species of butterfly.

Finally, it is hoped that butterfly preservation is not a voluntary project that asks people to donate for butterfly’s survival, but people need to protect butterfly species for their survival by doing jewellery business. A further implementation may involve not only butterfly but also the preservation of another insect or flora.


Paryana Puspaputra was born on 19 January 1964, in Lampung, Indonesia, and working as a lecturer at Department of Mechanical Engineer, Universitas Islam Indonesia (UII), Yogyakarta. Graduated from the ITB, Bandung, as in a Doctor of Mechanical Engineering and his research focus is in manufacturing of complex surfaces. Research in jewellery CAD/CAM and manufacturing was started intensively from 2007. Recently he is head of Centre Study of Art and Jewellery Product Design and Manufacturing, Mechanical Engineering Department of UII. He received Australia Awards: International Business Readiness – Jewellery Design Short Term Awards in 2017 at Griffith University, Brisbane.


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