REF no. 121
This exquisite treasure is finely modelled in the form of a snake entwined around an oval glazed locket containing woven hair. With ornate blue enamelled cross-hatching and featuring tiny ruby cabochon eyes, this piece is finely crafted in 18ct gold with 15ct gold pin fitting and dates to circa 1840s, with engraved inscription to the reverse ‘Ammie Obt. 22 Nov 1843’
Measurements: length of pin 70mm, snake motif 22mm x 11mm
A rare and fascinating piece of history, this piece was made at the beginning of the Victorian era, a period in English history defined by the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. The custom of wearing jewels to commemorate a death experienced a great revival in England during the eighteenth century and memorial jewellery became customary in society, bearing the name of the deceased and the dates of their birth and death.
The use of hair in jewellery was highly popular throughout the 18th – 19th century. A delicate but long-lasting material that held special meaning for the wearer, hair was woven into a lattice, sewn or arranged over silk or kept as a lock behind a glazed panel. This was valued for its inherent sentiment and treasured as a token of affection for a friend, relative or beloved.
The emblem of the snake has been incorporated into jewellery since ancient times due to its inherent mythological meaning and symbolism. The Victorians were interested in symbolism and sentimental meaning and to them the snake symbolised eternity, enduring love and wisdom. Queen Victoria herself was given an engagement ring in the form of a snake with an emerald set head, which for her was an emblem of eternal love.