A butterfly wing pendant made by Dianka Designs is sold at Art Mart on Pearl Street.
Zak Wood
A butterfly wing pendant made by Dianka Designs is sold at Art Mart on Pearl Street.

BOULDER, Colo. –

In the vintage days of jewelry, butterfly wings were often used as a backdrop of a brooch or pin, with a tawdry beach scene painted on the surface.

The wings’ luminous colors and unique patterns would be veiled by palm trees, mountains or seagulls.

Estes Park jewelry designer Dianka Pocop, of Dianka Designs, said that since the wings are so vibrant and unique — almost like gemstones — she creates pendants showcasing the natural beauty of the wing.

“I saw some butterfly jewelry in antique shops,” Pocop said. “Butterfly jewelry has been around since the late 1800s, but then it was more of a novelty item.”

Pocop said she worked mainly with gemstones in the past, but when she came across the iridescent blue morpho butterfly, the wing’s color mirrored a radiant stone.

“When I first saw it, I thought it was an opal,” Pocop said. “Then when I learned it was a butterfly wing, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that is just prettier than any gemstone I’ve ever seen.'”

Pocop said after learning about butterflies and the eco-beneficial effect butterfly reservations have, she began making her jewelry with her mother, Margit, as a green alternative to gemstones.

Butterflies live for seven to 10 days, and instead of throwing the specimens away, Pocop obtains them from reservations across the world, she said.

The beautiful wings and eco-practices have made Dianka Designs very popular over the past six years.

Lauren Grimditch general manager at Boulder’s Art Mart, 1222 Pearl St., said Pocop’s jewelry is a top seller.

“The butterflies, because of their brilliance, are the best-sellers. Far and away,” said Grimditch, who owns five of the necklaces. “They are so unique. They sparkle. The color is what draws people to them first.

“When I wear mine, I get a lot of, ‘Wow, what stone is that?'”

Grimditch said when customers stop by Dianka Designs’ display case, at least 80 percent of them walk out of the store with one of Pocop’s creations.

Brian Baxter, Art Mart’s floor and sales manager, said he has bought five pieces as gifts.

“One thing about this jewelry is that it’s so unique — customers say they’ve never seen anything like it,” Baxter said. “Each piece is two sided, so the buyers get two designs on one pendant.”

Each pendant is unique and has different designs or colors on each side. Pocop preserves the wing in a special airtight casing that oxygen can’t penetrate. But beware, as the jewelry is not waterproof.

Dianka Designs also creates aspen leaf and rose petal jewelry.

“It’s kind of fun for us because every fall the leaves are a different color,” Pocop said. “Those beautiful red aspen leaves that came out last year are what we are working on for spring.”

The petals and leaves endure three different drying processes to retain color, and all come right from Colorado.

Pocop’s designs have even entered the celebrity world.

Actress Minnie Driver, Kaycee Stroh from “High School Musical,” 2007 Miss USA Rachel Smith and actress Jessica Collins have all been photographed wearing her necklaces.

Even though celebrities wear her jewelry, keeping the price low is still a top priority, Pocop said.

“It’s very important to me for everybody to be able to afford the jewelry,” she said.