The snake is a traditional symbol of wisdom, knowledge, ingenuity, and power. Unlike many other creatures this reptile has no limbs. Thus it creates the illusion of achieving a goal without any apparent effort. In many Asian countries people believe that this creeper helps to open up financial flows. As told by ancient legend, its congealed saliva turns into rare gems and gives infinite wealth to those who deserve it.
The symbolic meaning of the snake
The symbolism associated with these reptiles is rooted in ancient mythology and originates in a variety of cultures. The bracelet of the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was in the form of a snake. It was associated with seductive beauty. The Greek god of medicine, Aesculapius, is depicted with a snake-entwined staff, which is a medical emblem to this day. The Roman Emperor Tiberius held the poisonous reptiles as guards to his palace. And the Greek philosopher Plato described the Ouroboros, the snake biting its own tail, as a way of eternal life.
Though perhaps no one ruler of the ancient world was more closely related to snakes than Cleopatra. The Egyptian queen represents herself as the reincarnation of the goddess Isis, who was worshipped by millions of citizens, from Alexandria to Rome. Many attributes of the goddess included the snake motif. For this reason Cleopatra always wore gold bracelets and a tiara with an upright cobra, the ancient Egyptian protective talisman, and at the same time, a royal emblem.
The snake motif in ancient time jewelry
Not surprisingly, the snake motif is often found in the jewelry of ancient Rome, where these beings symbolized wisdom, temptation and eternal renewal. According to the Bible, it was an insidious serpent that pushed Eve into the decision between good and evil that led to the Fall of Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. As a result this story subsequently added a sexual innuendo to the symbol. In Eastern cultures jewelry with such motifs was used as an amulet against the evil eye and black magic. It is present in the rings, crowns, and armillas — usually paired bracelets that were worn on the wrist or on the shoulders.
This motif was widespread in the 3rd century in Scandinavia. There, gold bracelets and torques with snakeheads at both ends indicated that their master belonged to a higher military class and the ruling elite. In medieval Europe, where Christianity slowly supplanted paganism, the snake was associated with the devil. The interest in this character woke up only in the 18th to 19th centuries. Thanks to archaeological discoveries the Europeans became acquainted with ancient civilizations. The Hellenic style entered as vogue again, perfectly recreated by Italian jewelers of the 19th century; Carlo Giuliano and Fortunato Pio Castellani.
At the same time the Egyptian campaign of Napoleon, the opening of the Suez Canal, the impersonation of Cleopatra, and the beauty and fearlessness that composed legends, became fashionable. Consequently, the snake attribute of the Queen of the Nile has also not gone unnoticed. The bad reputation of reptiles was finally defeated when Queen Victoria chose an engagement ring in the form of a snake biting its own tail — the Greek emblem of eternal love.
The snake of Bulgari
The tradition to reproduce the poisonous temptresses in jewelry continues in our time. The first mention of the precious snakes by the Bulgari can be found in the archives of the brand in the 1940s. Especially popular, they began in the mid-1960s. Then the screens played the film “Cleopatra” with Elizabeth Taylor in the title role. During filming, the actress became friends with the Bulgari family. She spent many nights in the secret room at the Via Condotti salon. During one of those visits, the Taylor collection was replenished with Serpenti jewelry watches.
To understand the appeal of this jewelry is a snap. They can be worn during both day and night, with jeans or with an evening dress. The “gas pipe” (Tubogas) was the fruit of the painstaking work of the brand’s skilled goldsmiths – featuring a snake that hides a dial in its mouth, densely covering the wrist. The technique of creating a flexible ribbon of smooth rounded spirals without sealing was invented in the second half of the 19th century. And it actively used by jewelers till the 1930s. However, this experienced a fairly long period of neglect until the triumphant resuscitation by the Bulgari family.
In addition to yellow gold, the traditional metal of the company, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds, as well as the tree of rare breeds, enamel, turquoise and lapis lazuli were used to create these pieces. All these have made Serpenti into a museum rarity and a dream of any collector. Paying homage to its history, the brand does not cease to use the image of reptiles in their new collections. For example, in 2016 they offered a fresh interpretation of the eternal symbol of the dangerous seductress. The Serpenti Eyes on Me collection is focused on the hypnotic gaze of snakes. They curl around your fingers and chest, as well as bite your earlobes.