When it comes to jewelry motifs, the serpent may be the most controversial. It can be a symbol of power and beauty…or a harbinger of poison and evil. While snake jewelry dates back to Paleolithic times, it has never been more popular than it is today. Just ask the experts at Bulgari, who have featured the slithering creatures in their Serpenti jewelry collections since the 1940s. Let’s take a look.
A Symbol of Ancient and Hollywood Royalty
Snake jewelry was prevalent in ancient Egypt, where the serpent was as a symbol of royalty and power. Cleopatra’s crown featured a cobra poised to strike, representing protection, fertility, eternity…and fear.
Elizabeth Taylor’s starring role in the 1963 film Cleopatra helped popularize snake jewelry in the modern era. In a perfect example of life imitating art, Taylor commemorated her role with a Bulgari Serpenti wraparound wristwatch, a gift from co-star and future husband Richard Burton.
Long Before Logos
According to Aja Raden, author of Stoned: Jewelry Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World, Bulgari made its mark in the ‘60s, during the rise of the snake jewelry craze. In an interview in Town & Country, Raden said: “What Bulgari did that was really groundbreaking was…to stamp the Bulgari name twice, on either side of a gem setting—not hidden like a signature but right out there for people to see.”
Up until that time, jewelry had not been visually branded. The Bulgari stamp—on its Serpenti jewelry and more—was the forerunner of the logo-centric brands we crave today.
In its latest Serpenti collection Bulgari focuses on the more delicate aspect of the snake’s nature. Featuring long chains with snakehead pendants, the newest Serpenti styles include snake eyes of malachite, amethyst and rubellite.
A hexagonal scale pattern, which imitates the skin of the snake, is a recurring pattern in the 2016 jewelry designs.
Source: Town & Country