People Are Covering Live Beetles In Jewels To Use As Jewelry

They're pinned on a gold chain so they can't escape 😱

Colorful pins and brooches have been making a comeback lately — but there’s one trend in Mexico that’s more creepy than cute.

Enter the maquech: a rhinestone-encrusted beetle glued to a tiny metal leash with a pin at the end. It works the same way as a regular brooch, but it’s alive.

Available in an array of different styles, the “live jewelry” is made from large, flightless beetles most commonly found in South America and Mexico. The metal chain forces the beetle to stay on whatever he’s pinned to, and the thick stones glued onto his back weigh him down.

While this hardy species of beetle can live up to four years, it’s likely they don’t survive more than a few months — if that — as a brooch due to stress and lack of proper care.

live beetle jewelry mexico
The "jewelry" after the beetles have died | Wikimedia Commons

The popularity of these sad brooches dates back to the 1980s, when they first began popping up in tourist shops around Yucatán, Mexico. They’re said to have originated from an ancient legend, where a princess’ forbidden lover was magically turned into a sparkling beetle so she could still have him near after he was sentenced to death.

But some argue the tale is nothing but a marketing ploy.

In shops, the blinged-up beetles are most often kept in large plastic bins before being sold to tourists for around $10. While there is very little information available on wild populations of maquechs, the fact that they’re regularly poached from their homes to be made into a product isn’t a good sign.

live beetle jewelry mexico

If you’re ever visiting the Yucatán and spot maquechs for sale, remember that these animals are much better off in the wild where they belong — free of chains and glittery stones.