Thanks to the gorgeous Brittany Siminitz of JCK for including my 18K-yellow-gold Queen of Scots earrings in her post on the “everlasting allure” of snake jewelry.
“Everlasting” is the perfect word. The ancient Egyptians wore snake jewelry, and the double crown of the pharaohs included a representation of a rearing cobra. Millennia later, in England, as Brittany points out, Queen Victoria’s engagement ring was an emerald-set snake design.
I’m in great company in Britt’s post. All the pieces are beautiful and I’m insanely jealous of Lydia Courteille’s snake tiara. But I will say that I’m No. 1 in one category: My snakes are by far the meanest-looking ones!
What can I say? A viper is much more interesting to me than a garter snake when it comes to jewelry. In fact, I’m working on a snake ring now, and rejected the original wax model because it didn’t look poisonous enough to me.
I did my first fierce snake design nine years ago. But I wasn’t inspired by ancient Egypt or Queen Victoria. As I explained in this post, my snake designs are named for the 16th-century’s Mary Queen of Scots, who, as a long-time prisoner of her cousin Elizabeth I, posed a threat to the British throne. Elizabeth’s advisers called Mary the “bosom serpent,” meaning England was embracing a threat the same way (legend says) Cleopatra did with her poisonous asp. The term “bosom serpent” simply demanded a necklace, which was my first Queen of Scots piece.
Later, I did the earrings, which are available in both 18K yellow gold, and a combination of sterling silver and 18K rose gold.
I’ve wanted to do ring versions for years. I finally got to work on that this summer after I bought a pinky-brown diamond that would fit a viper’s head nicely. I hope that design will be done by the end of this month.
Another jewelry style that’s been around since ancient times is the signet ring. National Jeweler published an interesting story about the history of signet rings here. I wrote about signet rings in July, after I took this photo of my right-hand woman Eryn wearing my “No Class” ring (on her right hand!).
As I mentioned in that post, it was singer/songwriter Skylar Grey who originally asked me for a “No Class” class ring style. I was excited to do it because I’d had developed a renewed interest in signet rings after rediscovering my tiny Columbia University class ring. We had a meeting of the minds! A lot of times, that’s how I wind up starting a new design: A customer asks me for something I’ve been mulling over and suddenly I am in a rush to get it done. Now, prepare yourselves for three views of Skylar’s silver No Class ring!
You can order a customized No Class ring in either silver or 18K yellow gold by emailing me at info at wendybrandes dot com. The top of the ring won’t change, but you get to choose which “extracurricular activities” you want on the sides of the ring, just like with a real class ring. For example, my 18K-gold No Class ring is a tribute to New York City. On one side, I have 212 — the classic New York City area code — and a rat. The other side expresses a typical New York attitude.
When I did a silver ring for Ben Smithee of Luxe Intelligence, Ben chose to rep his Texas roots on one side and his new neighborhood — the Lower East Side of Manhattan — on the other.
Real university rings often bear a school’s Latin motto, so, for the No Class ring, I chose a famously obscene line from a Roman poem known as Catullus 16. Read the translation IF YOU DARE.
Pre-order Skylar Grey’s new album, Natural Causes, here!
UPDATED SEPT. 8 TO ADD: Woot! My snake earrings were front and center on JCK’s homepage today.