Distinction of valour has historically been linked to great deeds and great stages: Congressional Medals of Honour pinned by POTUS, ancient Roman triumphs, and of course we all remember Bob Dylan’s already legendary acceptance speech at the Nobel awards ceremony. History has produced a wide variety of decorations: medals, laurels, ribbons and even tattoos. The first one though, the very first one ever, was a golden fly awarded by an Egyptian pharaoh.

Credit Roger Viollet

The Egyptian fly hieroglyph was the sign for the word “determinator”. Flies started appearing on bead amulets as early as the Old and Middle Kingdoms. During the New Kingdom golden flies became the earliest decorations for military valour, symbol for persistence in the face of opposition. Findings of golden flies on women extended this to special occasions like jubilees.

Today, extraordinary valour has extended into ordinary contexts, like the valour of parents working double shifts to pay for their children’s education. Heroism has shifted from distant battlefields to nearby families, schools or neighbourhoods.

Most of our Oktaaf jewelry is conceived from an angle of occasion: new birth, old love,… We badly wanted to reinterpret the concept of the medal of distinction, as a recognition of day-to-day valour. A contemporary pin was the obvious choice, the selection of the symbolic antiquity proved to be a labyrinth. We looked at medals, ribbons and even medieval chivalry orders. Eventually, and by pure accident, we stumbled on the unexpected Egyptian fly.

Our brooch of distinction is a testament to millions of acts of valour by millions of anonymous heroes. It is the original decoration, it is an exceptional piece, and we hope it finds its way to an extraordinary person.