Snake Jewellery

Article from Berganza


front view Antique diamond snake ring berganza hatton garden
Antique diamond set snake ring, French, circa 1890.
Ref: 21520

Wednesday 16th April 2014

Snakes or serpents are one of the oldest motifs used in jewellery throughout history. Examples date from as early as Ancient Egyptian times. The Egyptians invented the ‘ouroboros’ or ‘tail devouring snake’ -an image which forms a perfect circle. This unending circle was seen as a symbol of the unchanging, cyclical nature of life and was used for royalty and a symbol of the divine. Another theory behind the popularity of the snake symbol in antiquity was that it was inspired by the Milky Way- ancient texts note a ‘serpent of light living in the heavens’ while the Ancient Romans chose to view snakes as being symbolic of everlasting love.

There was a boom in serpent jewellery in Victorian England when Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with a ring in the form of a snake with an emerald-set head. This was a catalyst event for snake jewellery in the Victorian era, peaking in the 1840s, which started a rage for jewellery in the form of snakes. Because of this Royal influence in connection to romance, the Victorians viewed snakes as representations of everlasting love and perfection- Victoria and Albert were married for 21 years and after Albert’s death, Queen Victoria famously mourned him for rest of her life.

Over the centuries, snake imagery has had continuing allure, perhaps because it has been seen  as being symbolic of opposite dual expressions- for example, both rebirth or renewal with the shedding of its skin and poison with its deadly venom.

In jewellery design terms, snakes present an ideal flexible motif, varying from anatomically correct examples to loose stylised designs, single winding snakes or pairs of entwined snakes, coiled in elaborate knots, or wrapped around the finger, with their bodies highly textured, set with gems, engraved with scales or simple smooth flowing metal.

Antique snake and serpent jewellery is still highly sought after because of its enduring appeal and entertaining varied designs. Today we see snake inspired couture jewellery being worn by stars and socialites on the red carpet around the world. Here at Berganza we are extremely lucky to have a range of sinuous examples for you to add to your own jewellery collection!

front view Antique sapphire and diamond snake ring, circa 1905.
Antique sapphire and diamond snake ring, circa 1905.
Ref: 16748
front veiw vintage Emerald pyrite snake ring hatton garden berganza
Emerald and pyrite snake ring, French, circa 1960.
Ref: 16782
front view Antique garnet and pearl set snake necklace
Antique garnet and pearl set snake necklace, circa 1880.
Ref: 18691
Antique ruby and diamond snake ring
Victorian ruby and diamond snake ring, circa 1900.
Ref: 17369
front view Antique gold long guard chain with snake slide, French, circa 1895.
Antique gold long guard chain with snake slide, French, circa 1895.
Ref: 15185
David Webb diamond and enamel snake ring berganza hatton garden
David Webb vintage diamond and enamel snake ring, circa 1970.
Ref: 20350
front view Ruby, sapphire and diamond set snake cufflinks
Ruby, sapphire and diamond set snake cufflinks, circa 1920.
Ref: 20347
front view Sapphire and diamond snake ring, circa 1920.
Sapphire and diamond snake ring, circa 1920.
Ref: 17132
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