The snake is one of the oldest motifs in jewelry…and inarguably one of the most divisive. On one hand, the serpent is a symbol of power, demanding our respect; on the other, it is a messenger of evil, engendering fear. Perhaps this duality is one reason why snakes have fascinated jewelry makers and wearers for thousands of years. Let’s explore some affordable snake jewelry pieces that take their cues from leading designers of today…and yesterday.
Bulgari is widely credited for starting the modern-era jewelry craze for all things reptilian. Beginning in the 1940s, and borrowing a coil design from industrial piping, Bulgari introduced the Serpenti wraparound wristwatch. It has since spawned countless bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings with bejeweled snake motifs and coiled metals.
Throughout the decades, tastemakers including Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Babe Paley have collected Serpenti jewels made with diamonds, precious gemstones, enamel, and wood. At the Cannes Film Festival in May, model-of-the-moment Bella Hadid introduced the Bulgari Serpenti Collection to a new generation of jewelry lovers. If you like Bella’s designer look, check out ross-simons.com for a terrific gold-tone snake necklace for only $206.
Left: Reproduction of an Ancient Snake Bracelet. Photo Courtesy of metmuseum.org
Right: Gabriele Frantzen Striped Snake Bracelet, $145 at lyst.com.
Snake Bracelets We Love
The dynamic design of the Metropolitan Museum’s Snake Bracelet is reproduced from a master mold taken directly from an original Egyptian bracelet from around 300–250 B.C. in the museum’s collection. Realistically rendered with scales on both its head and tail, the original snake bracelet was created in the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Available for $42.50 at metmuseum.org.
A style favorite of fashion maven and it-girl Olivia Palermo, Gabriele Frantzen’s jewelry has been making a big impression since 2009. Her Navy and Green Watch Bracelet is guaranteed to make a bold (and slightly preppy) statement with its polished gold snake brooch featuring sparkling Swarovski crystal eyes. Presented in a gift-ready logo metallic pouch, the Frantzen bracelet is also available in red and white stripes. $145 at lyst.com.
Rings and Things
It may surprise you to learn that you can purchase a genuine Bulgari Serpenti Wedding Band in 18K Gold for as little as $1,400. Featuring a unisex design with scale-like details, “this universal symbol of eternal youth will be the precious guardian of endless love stories,” promises Bulgari’s website.
Not quite ready to take that plunge? Consider a fashion ring ring with the popular snake motif. We like the simplicity of this coiled Snake Ring in Sterling Silver, available for only $50.99 at jtv.com.
Want to learn more about snake jewelry? Click here for past articles from OBJ.