The eye of each peacock feather is made from a tiny section cut from a beetle elytra (wing cover). This seems strange and unusual to us today, but beetle wings were, in fact, a common feature in Victorian embroidery, including embroidery on clothes.
Some claim that the wings are replacements, and that the embroidery was originally embellished with emeralds. This story may have been passed down from eyewitness accounts on the night of the Coronation Ball, on which Lady Curzon’s dress is said to have looked as though it was dripping with precious jewels. Thrifty businessman’s daughter Mary, who once wrote to her father boasting about her fake jewels, would surely have been amused by the illusion!