19.12.12

Snake motif in jewelry


I am not a big fan of jewelry in the form of snakes but when I saw the photo of this bracelet (dating from 1850) I wish I had something like this in my possession. I like the design and I like the snake itself, it looks as if smiling.
Snakes amulets have been popular since the ancient times, they were being worn at least 3000 years ago. Snakes' cold, scaly bodies, hypnotically fixed unblinking eyes, flicking tongues and their ability to renew themselves by shedding the skin - all these fascinated people, they thought that snakes are immortal and they know the secret of eternal life. These creatures became a symbol of longevity and immortality and people started to wear amulets to give them long life and guard against sickness.

Enameled snake bracelet, 1860-70

Snakes were the symbol of a number of deities associated with healing, including the Egyptian goddess Isis and the Greek god of medicine Asclepios. It was therefore a commonly used pattern in jewelry in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece.

Arm bracelet. Gold, Egypt, 1c. V&A Museum

Bracelet in the form of snake. Gold, Roman, 1-2c. V&A Museum

The motif of the snake swallowing its tail symbolizes eternity and so can be found as a token of love and in mourning jewelry.

Bracelet. British, 1835-40. Gold, silver, rubies, pearls, turquoise, diamonds (this one I like very much too)

Pin in the shape of snake. Russia, 1860. The Hermitage Museum

The snake motif in jewelry was most fashionable in the 1840s. Queen Victoria wore a serpent bracelet to her first council meeting in 1837 and was given a serpent and emerald engagement ring by Prince Albert. I think the snake jewelry of this period is the most interesting and beautiful. Perhaps the fashion for serpent designs came to Britain from India where such jewelry had been popular as protective for centuries.

Golden snake bracelet with garnets. 1845

Snake bracelet. Turquoise, pearls, rubies. Western Europe, 1860. The Hermitage Museum

Nowadays snake jewelry is not as popular as it used to be. But anyway such designs still have their fans both among the designers and among the wearers.

Snake beads necklace. Designer Anna Cohen

Enamel and crystals gold snake ring. From Kohl's

Black diamond gold ring. Designer Patricia Field

Fire opal and black diamonds ring. Designer Kimberly McDonald 

And these are my small silver snake motif adornments bought here in Nepal, a pendant and a ring


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