Snake ring, what it represents and how to wear it
A snake coiled in its own coils. A hypnotic and fascinating figure, which not surprisingly has a permanent presence in the world of jewellery, starting with the famous snake ring. But what is the significance of this piece of jewellery? And why does this ring always occupy a place of honour in the windows of the best jewellers?
The meaning of the snake ring
To understand the fascination of the snake ring, it is necessary to understand how central the figure of this animal has been in the most diverse cultures of antiquity. In fact, this particular scaly reptile has always stimulated the human imagination, becoming one of the protagonists of peoples’ mythology and folklore. As is well known, in the biblical account of the Earthly Paradise, the serpent of Eden is the representation of the tempting devil, who goes to deceive Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge. It is therefore the symbol of evil, but also of cunning: in Genesis we read in fact that ‘the serpent was the most cunning of all the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made’. But the Judeo-Christian religion is certainly not the only one to count the serpent in its texts. In various peoples of different epochs, for instance, there is the symbol of the uroboros, or the snake biting its own tail, thus forming a circle without beginning and without end. It usually symbolises the power that devours and regenerates itself, as well as the cyclical nature of things. In certain mythologies, the uroboros ends up being the symbol of eternity, immortality and perfection.
The snake itself, moreover, has the ability to regenerate itself, changing its skin in a process of evolution that certainly affected ancient peoples. It is no coincidence that in Egyptian culture the snake ends up representing both a beneficent deity and a deity of darkness. In the ancient Indian texts, on the other hand, the serpent represents the divine element present in every person, an element that ensures a mysterious and potentially poisonous energy, but which, if handled in the right way, allows one to improve one’s life.
The snake in the jewellery store
From what has been said, it is not surprising that the snake has become one of the most prominent symbols in the world of jewellery, among rings and not only. In addition to the many meanings and suggestions from myths and religions, it was – and is – also the sinuous shape of this animal that prompted this.
The long tradition of snake rings began in the Victorian era. The initiator was herself, Queen Victoria, who famously ruled for 63 years, 7 months and 2 days – only the reign of Elizabeth II, her great-great-granddaughter, was longer. During these very long years on the throne, Queen Victoria strongly influenced the arts, fashion and yes, even jewellery. In the case of the snake ring, it all began with the queen receiving from Prince Albert, i.e. her husband, a snake ring made of gold and embellished with an emerald. Queen Victoria wore the snake ring daily from then on, making this jewel famous all over the world. This particular form of ring has never ceased to fascinate, with various jewellery artists reworking and repurposing it.
There are many fashion houses that have proposed and continue to propose snake rings in their collections, from Bulgari onwards.
Bulgari, in particular, has adopted the symbolism of the snake not only in its rings, but also in its watches, with the Bulgari Serpenti collection, which has become the quintessence of the maison’s style: opulent zoomorphic variants where the reptile’s head, designed to conceal the dial, is dressed in precious stones.
Bulgari’s exuberant creativity then transported the snake symbol into seductive jewellery collections, where necklaces, bracelets and earrings offer stunning interpretations of the iconic design.
Boucheron's snake ring
Returning to rings, one cannot fail to mention Boucheron’s classic snake ring, first conceived in 1878 by Frederick Boucheron for his bride Gabrielle, coining a model that remained substantially unchanged for over a century. With this jewel, the founder of the maison wished to symbolise the love that bound him to his companion by giving her a piece of jewellery that could protect her during his absence. It is therefore not surprising to still find the iconography of the snake as the brand emblem today: a snake is also present in the Boucheron monogram, coiled around the letter B.
But that’s not all: the Boucheron Serpent Bohème collection is now one of those collections that have become myths and icons: the Parisian house’s snake changes skin, but the soul remains the same. Continuous innovation, accompanied by the goldsmith’s mastery and the art of chiselling, have ensured that the Serpent Boheme collection is always recognisable despite the changes that have taken place over the years, also thanks to the constant use of the noble metal chosen by the maison. Gold, in yellow and pink variants, is indeed the preferred material: sculpted into small spheres and scales, as in the iconic Serpent Boheme double-subject model.
In recent years, the collection has been enriched with models characterised by rich and vivid colours, such as the triple-subject Serpent Boheme, in white gold, with diamonds and the extraordinary Aquaphase gemstone. A further demonstration of how rich and fervent is the imagery associated with snake rings.