How the Snake Became a High Jewellery Staple
Francesca Fearon –
South China Morning Post –
How the snake became a high jewellery staple at luxury brands from Cartier and Tiffany & Co. to Bulgari – and it didn’t all start with Elizabeth Taylor sporting a Serpenti watch to promote Cleopatra
Cleopatra’s jewellery more than 2,000 years ago inspired Bulgari to create its first Serpenti watch in 1948 – and the design is sure to enjoy more popularity thanks to Gal Gadot’s film about the queenSome of Cartier’s most famous serpentine jewellery was created in the late 1960s for Mexican actress Maria Félix who quipped, ‘it’s more of a fondness for diamonds than for snakes’
Golden bejewelled serpents have been slithering around the wrists, necks and fingers of Bulgari customers for 75 years, even Hollywood royalty. In 1962, a publicity shot for Cleopatra (1963) featured Elizabeth Taylor sporting a large diamond-headed Bulgari Serpenti bracelet-watch coiled around her wrist. That, of course, was a jewel worn on the set, and not the poisonous asp that brought about the demise of the Queen of Egypt. However, that connection highlights the symbolism of the snake in many cultures and no doubt will be highlighted again with the remake of the film starring Gal Gadot, to be released this year.
It was the jewellery of Cleopatra, in Rome more than 2,000 years ago, that inspired Bulgari to create its first Serpenti watch in 1948. And the sinuous serpent has proved to be uniquely suited to jewellery ever since. As Bulgari Group’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin says, the serpent has showcased the creativity and ingenious craftsmanship of the Italian brand, proving “it was and is the ultimate Bulgari icon of endless metamorphosis”.