Serpents are arguably some of the most iconic symbols used in mythology, religion and jewelry. Instilling fear with their ferocious characters, whilst also being hailed as an embodiment of rebirth and growth, their shedding skin as the ultimate symbol of life force.
Ancient Greeks, Mayans and Aztecs worshiped snake- deities, while Egyptians adopted snakes as royal and divine animals, often depicted on tombs and temples. The ouroboros, a snake biting its own tail, is one of the oldest known alchemic representations of eternity. A cycle with no beginning or end, always renewing and confidently moving through change.
Biblical depictions of snakes took the form of temptation: Adam and Eve, the tree of knowledge and Adam’s first wife Lilith that is often described as partly serpent.
But snakes really became a staple in jewelry making in the 1800s, when Prince Albert gifted Queen Victoria of the UK a stunning snake engagement ring. Because Victoria was already Queen at the time of the love affair, she had to propose to Albert instead of the other way around. The iconic jewel-encrusted snake he gifted her in return set a trend for many amazing snake-inspired pieces made around that time. My love for Victorian jewelry often allows me to curate some original pieces from the Victorian era, although the 1970s revival of Victorian jewelry has also produced some epic rings, necklaces, earrings, and brooches.
More modern interpretations by fine jewelry houses such as Cartier, Boucheron and Bulgari tell a whole new version of the serpent’s story.
Oh, how I adore these strong symbols that seem to stem from a common consciousness. Whichever theme the snake may represent in your life’s story, hopefully it’s a reminder of eternal (self) love and the power of change.