Serpent Jewelry

Serpent Jewelry

You may love serpents or hate them and find them downright scary but decorated forms of this creature were commonplace in antiquity and continue to play a reoccurring role in art today. So what is our fascination with the slithery snake?

Serpents (or snakes) are one of the oldest celebrated symbols, widely seen in sculptures, architectural features and my personal favorite, jewelry motifs. Perhaps its movement lends itself well to jewelry, allowing bracelets, rings and necklaces to be wrapped or coiled in an organic flowing design.

Roman Snake Ring Walters Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons

Folklore of the serpent is as uniquely diverse as the art, thought to represent good or evil, and everything in between.

With the shedding of their skin, these reptiles are historically associated with fertility, rebirth, and transformation. The venom relates to life and death, representing the power to poison and heal. In modern medicine the caduceus, (the origin of which can be traced back to Greek Mythology) is connected with the deity of healing and medicine and displays two snakes encircled around a winged staff. Ancient rulers and heroines of mythology such as Cleopatra and Medusa are famously linked with the deadly serpent.

Admiration for the snake continued during the archeological discoveries of Egyptian tombs, with the image of the cobra (or Asp) representing royalty. Another famous image was the ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, thought to be a symbol of eternal life. In more recent times the intrigue of the snake has grown, gaining popularity during the Victoria era and becoming a prominent figure of the

Roman – Necklace with Large Open-Work Disk and Snakes’ Head Closure Walters Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons

Romantic Movement. It is said that in 1840 Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with a snake engagement ring adorned with an emerald head. This was considered a symbol of eternal love with origins dating back to the ancient Romans. During the Art Nouveau (“new art”) movement, the serpent was a noticeable theme with the spiral or coiled movement inspiring growth and journey and capturing the spirit of nature. 

Just last year Bulgari curated an exhibit called SerpentiForm on display in Rome, a tribute and testament to the iconic symbol. 

Take a look at some of these amazing works of wearable art I found in my research. Would these convince you to wear serpent-inspired jewelry?

 

Cartier Snake Necklace, circa 1968, courtesy of Cartier

 

A Victorian Enamel and Diamond Brooch, courtesy of Bonhams

 

A Turquoise Serpent Bracelet, circa 1845 courtesy of Bonhams

 

Serpenti ring is rose gold, courtesy of Bulgari

 

Serpenti Necklace courtesy of Bulgari

 

Serpent Necklace, circa 1850, courtesy of Bonhams

Serpent Boheme Bangle Bracelet courtesy of Boucheron

 

Enamel and Emerald ‘Serpenti’ Bracelet-Watch, by Bulgari, circa 1958-65, courtesy of Bonhams

 

Emerald and Diamond Serpent Brooch, courtesy of Bonhams

 

Kaa, The Snake Ring, courtesy of Boucheron

 

A ‘Serpent’ Bangle, by Tiffany & Co., Circa 1900, courtesy of Bonhams

 

 

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