The Georgian and Victorian period believed very much in the symbolism of the animal kingdom. The snake firstly carried a very romantic connotation, with the tail travelling around to the head it stood for timelessness and eternity, and when it was given to a lady, it would be the same as giving an eternity band or a heart locket today. It became a very popular motif in the Victorian period, after Prince Albert used a serpent engagement ring with emeralds and diamonds in the head, to propose to Queen Victoria. And when ever Royalty do anything, the aristocracy, gentry and wealthy people always follow suit. I have several antique snake engagement rings, but the most unusual is one with a double snake head was an added take on the theme of eternity, the intertwining of the bodies symbolized the two becoming one for ever. It is also interesting to note that Queen Victoria wore a snake bangle to her very first opening of parliament.
The second symbolism of snake jewelry was that of healing; this goes back to ancient times in the Pentateuch, it tells where the Children of Israel where in the wilderness, and they had encountered a plague of snakes. God instructed Moses to have a pole carved as a snake, anyone bitten by a serpent, who just looked at the pole would not succumb to the snake venom. Also when some of the ancient Hittite cities were discovered they had the snake as a symbol of healing. Even now the double snake intertwined going around the pole is a medical symbol, which can be seen outside most Doctor’s surgeries.
The last symbolism, which I do not so often share with customers in the shop; is that of fertility. Because the snake has a phallic shape, even going back to the ancient Egyptian time period it was believed to represent fertility. Now I know most people would take this with a pinch of salt, but before one dismisses this superstition completely one must note that Queen Victoria did have nine children!
This particular double snake engagement ring is particularly interesting, as it has an ‘Old Brilliant Oval Cut’ diamond in one head; the word diamond comes from the ancient Greek word for unbreakable, symbolizing the unbreakable power of love. It also has Demantoid garnet eyes. Demantoid garnets are the rarest of all garnets, initially they were only found in Russia, and were one of the few Gem stones that has more fire than a diamond, though this was masked by the green color. Faberge used demantoids in his egg collection.
The stone in the other head is a natural Blue Burma Sapphire; the sapphire was a symbol of both strength, wisdom and kindness. This head has diamond eyes. Both the sapphire and the diamond are over one carat.