Jewellery, Watches and Objects of Vertu (23 November 2021)

Date of Auction: 23rd November 2021

Sold for £3,800

Estimate: £2,800 - £3,500

A Victorian gold and emerald set serpent necklace, circa 1860, the snake-link chain terminating in a serpent head clasp, with embossed foliate decoration, inset with three emeralds in collet mounts, with cabochon garnet eyes, suspending an emerald set heart-shaped pendant of conforming design, glazed locket compartment verso, contained in shaped fitted case, length 41cm. £2,800-£3,500


Serpent Jewellery

The Ancient Egyptian culture was probably the first to heavily adopt the use of snakes in jewellery, seen as symbolising deity, status and loyalty. In Greek and Roman mythology, the snake continued to be a recurring theme, regarded by many as guardians of the underworld and later said to represent protection and healing.

By Renaissance times, snakes was seen in a less positive light, the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden leading to more negative associations of evil or imminent danger. During the Victorian era, serpent inspired jewellery enjoyed a huge revival after Prince Albert in 1840 had designed an engagement ring for his bride, Queen Victoria, modelled as two serpents in an eternal circle and inset with an emerald (her birthstone). (At this time, it was popular to include birthstones in engagement rings, rather than diamonds). During the mid 19th century, when nature and symbolism had a powerful influence on jewellery design, serpents became synonymous with eternal love and became a popular motif, fashioned into necklaces, pendants, bracelets and rings.