I am not sure why I like snake jewellery. I suppose part of it is about the symbolism of snakes and serpents throughout history. They have represented infinity and eternal love since before the ancient Egyptian period, through the bronze age, the Greeks and Romans and so on. They took the form of bracelets, armbands, rings, diadems – all were popular. There was quite a long period in history, through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods, when snakes were not popular, possibly because of the rise of Christianity and the role of the snake in tempting Adam and Eve. But snake jewellery popularity had certainly revived by the early 1800s.
Victorians loved snake jewellery, influenced a lot by Queen Victoria’s wearing of it in the form of bracelets, rings, and necklaces. There are beautiful examples still around from the beginning of her reign, like the lovely snake bracelet above. This one has a head studded with turquoise with ruby eyes. More expensive versions had the whole body set with turquoise or precious gemstones as well.
The snake necklet above is typical of early Victorian snake necklaces. It is quite short, as so many are, and comprises a snake’s head set with a large foil-backed garnet cabochon holding in its mouth a heart shaped locket, also set with a foil-backed garnet cabochon. The back of the heart has a compartment for hair.
I was happy recently to find a vintage version of the snake necklace. This is from the 1960s and is beautifully made. It is not gold but is silver gilt and had a smooth coil snake chain, longer than the Victorian ones. It is decorated with blue and gold enamel and has some pearls inset into the head and the locket. The little locket hanging from the snake’s mouth is gorgeous and opens up so one could place hair or a photo inside.
I have other pieces of snake jewellery but I’ll save them for a post at a later time.