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costume jewelry frog brooch with green enamel and diamonds

Easy Being Green: Frog Jewelry

Jun 23, 2023 | meaningful jewelry

I know, I know. Not all frogs are green. But to costume jewelry designers who see the green-as-money commercial appeal of frogs, it is.

I can’t agree frogs are the most appealing animal to wear, but I do love seeing them in my yard or on a hike. They give me a sense of well-being, like we’re getting enough rain.

I once stepped on a toad in bare feet and it flattened and made the most human, squeaky sigh. Then it filled back up with air and hopped away. That’s a sound-sensation I’ll not soon forget.

Collectible Coro frog brooch, 1940s, USA
Collectible Coro frog brooch, 1940s, USA, asking price $1,900

And now that the internet is aware that I am not only an expert on frogs, but I also have experience with toads, which are somewhat like frogs, I give you what I’ve learned about the meaning of frog jewelry.

Interested in other meaningful jewelry gifts?

What’s the meaning of frog jewelry?

The symbolism of frogs in jewelry design and other art forms includes references to its amphibian quality, moving between the worlds of water and land, and to spring, when frogs are most abundant. Therefore, frogs are often considered signs of change.

In Northwest Native American cultures, frogs appear at the base of totem poles, symbolizing stability.

Centennial Pole, Chief Maker and Frog Figures, Charles Hoey Park,,  Duncan, B.C.
Centennial Pole, Charles Hoey Park,  Duncan, B.C.

Ancient Egyptians saw the frog as a symbol of life and fecundity. Its presence was a sign that the river they depended upon was healthy.

In fact, in ancient Egyptian religion, the frog-headed goddess Heqet personified generation, birth, and fertility, and frog amulets were common as charms for fertility.

Shop Egyptian Revival jewelry for sale at minusOne.

The Chinese have a money frog, a three-legged toad placed in the home to attract wealth and prosperity.

And the Japanese also see the frog as a sign of success and good fortune.

However, it’s safe to say that most of the world’s existing stash of antique, vintage, and contemporary frog jewelry results from a more profane approach to jewelry design.

Many people just think frogs are cute.

What types of jewelry feature frogs?

Generally speaking, frogs have been most often featured on brooches. However, rings with frogs are readily available in contemporary fashion jewelry, as well as necklaces and bracelets.

It may surprise you to know just how many people love frogs enough to wear them. It surprised me, honestly.

I’ve always loved snake jewelry, though. Read about the meaning of snake jewelry.

Or shop snake jewelry for sale at minusOne.

Collectible vintage costume frog brooches

Frog pins made by quality costume jewelers from the 20th century are highly collectible.

I found this 1930s pavé rhinestone frog brooch designed by Alfred Philippe for Trifari on 1stDibs for $12,500.

1930s Trifari frog brooch designed by Alfred Philippe for Trifari

It’s over-priced for a pin with rhinestones and faux emerald cabochons, but you get the idea.

This cool burnt umber enamel brooch (admittedly a toad, not a frog) is by Ciner, a high-end costume jeweler, and one of my favorites. Black Swarovski crystals were used for eyes.

Ciner Swarovski crystal toad Brooch Pin 1980s | meaning of frog jewelry

And the collectible 1940s Coro frog brooch shown above has an asking price of $1,900.

Fine jewelers make frog brooches, too.

Frogs are not just for fashion jewelry. Contemporary couture jewelry designers like Tiffany & Co., David Webb and Seaman Schepps have frog brooches with precious gems and metals in their collections.

These examples of frog brooches include 18K gold, diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, and semi-precious gems including pearls and tourmaline.

A very cool design with 18K gold and carved crystal by Seaman Schepps has a resale asking price of $6,500.

The contemporary ruby studded frog (circa 2019) has 15 carats of rubies, with an asking price of $5,200.

The pearl-covered brooch dates back to the early 1900s and might also be a toad. It’s easier to tell the difference face-to-face, or underfoot.

It’s asking price is also around $5,000.

I go to 1stDibs.com to get my imagination going and also to Ebay to assess the marketplace.

138 frog brooches are offered for sale on 1stDibs, as of today, ranging in list price from $150 to $88,000 for a rather homely 19th century (circa 1870) brooch.

19th century (circa 1870) brooch set with old European-cut diamonds estimated at 24 carats.

Set with old European-cut diamonds estimated at 24 carats, this is a great example of how even designs with silver settings can be home to the most precious gems.

Read more about the history of different gemstone cuts.

Frog posturing for effect: En tremblant

Often, a frog brooch will have a little pinky-finger-while-drinking-tea leg.

Contemporary inexpensive frog brooch with stuck out leg.
Inexpensive costume frog brooch.

It’s pure posturing.

But it also allows for some technical difficulty in the design called en tremblant by the French.

A piece of metal is attached to a thin wire spring, or trembler to add movement.

This little spring is surprisingly durable, in spite of its delicate trembling.

In the case of this 18K gold and real diamond frog brooch, its dainty leg is mounted on a trembler and wiggles when worn.

Diamond frog with en tremblant leg

Frog rings? Not as cute

David Webb makes frog rings too. It may be because the canvas is smaller, and there’s less room for designing personality, but frog rings feel a little creepy, a little more amphibian.

Zorab Creation Red Sapphire Brown and White Diamond Frog Ring
$24,415

Maybe it’s just in the disproportionate size of the eyes, which seems to be the personality focus for frog ring design more than brooches.

David Webb Diamond Ruby Green Enamel Yellow Gold Frog Ring
$18,000

And finally, frog earrings

There’s not much more to say about frogs and jewelry. You can find loads of earring designs, too.

I can’t bring myself to explore the necklace options. I’m cooked.

But I want to share one last cool thing, and that’s these earrings.

They’re made from Galalith, which was France’s version of Bakelite. The seller of this great pair shares this history of the designer François Schoenlaub on the listing:

“Galalith (known as French Bakelite), was a popular material for Art Deco jewelry as it was easy to manipulate and perfect for mass production.

The master of this plastic jewelry though was a guy from the 1970s called François Schoenlaub, who was so enchanted with the deco jewelry that he travelled to France, bought one of the few remaining Galalith factories and set up his company Guillemette L’Hoir – Paris.

For many years he produced pieces for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.”

Now I’m off to find some cool old Galalith pieces!

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minusOne jewelry logo of a pink Art Deco scallop | Trumansburg NY
minusOne jewelry | Trumansburg NY

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