1906 Edwardian ‘DEAREST’ Acrostic Snake Bracelet

A very rare and elegant turn-of-the-century Edwardian snake bracelet, crafted with a rich buttery 18k yellow gold, and set with a row of different precious gemstones to acrostically spell the word DEAREST:

(D)iamond
(E)merald
(A)methyst (tests as purple sapphire, which historically has also been called amethyst)
(R)uby
(E)emerald
(S)apphire
(T)opaz

The inside surface of the bracelet also bears the inscription: “Chic Nov-06” (i.e. November, 1906), suggesting this bracelet was likely gifted as a sentimental or romantic gesture. Several waves of archeological mania in the 18th and 19th centuries revived the snake as an ancient symbol for eternity. In the 1830s, Victorians began wearing snake jewelry as symbols of eternal love; this practice persisted well into the Art Nouveau period. Paired with the acrostic message ‘dearest’, this snake bracelet makes a very romantic gesture indeed.

It’s also worthwhile to note that the form and design of this bracelet is almost a direct adaptation of ancient Egyptian designs from classical antiquity. The simple, almost delicate warp-around form, with a waving and curving tail, is more slender than snake bracelets from the Victorian era. This departure can be attributed to the popularity of Egyptian and near eastern revival movements in European decorative arts between 1890 – 1910.

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Description

Date: 1906 (by inscription), Edwardian / Egyptian Revival movement

Materials: solid 18k yellow gold (unmarked; tested with nitric & muriatic acid), diamonds, emeralds, purple sapphire (for the ‘amethyst’), ruby, blue sapphire, yellow topaz

Inscription: “Chic Nov-06”

Weight: 10.6 grams

Inner diameter of bracelet: 58 mm

Inner circumference of bracelet: 170 mm (i.e. fits a 6.7-inch wrist or smaller)

Dimension of snake head: 12 x 6.7 mm

Diameter of gemstones: the main ‘DEAREST’ gems are 2.5 mm, the diamond eyes are 1.5 mm

Width and thickness of snake body: 4 mm wide; 3.5 mm thick

Condition: The main condition issue to note is that the snake has been snapped cleanly in two in the past and soldered back together (this area is located right beneath the yellow topaz stone). There is a tight but visible solder line. This issue is most noticeable from the back of the bracelet, but is subtle and hard to see when worn on the wrist. Under 60x loupe magnification, I can spot some surface wear to the gemstone facet edges (mostly just the emeralds). The gold settings of the ruby and topaz are missing a partial section to the edge; the stones are however secure and do not “wiggle” or move when tapped. Otherwise, this bracelet is in good antique condition. It is a rare piece due to its acrostic and Egyptian revival design. I have priced it modestly in consideration of the condition flaw; this is a good opportunity for the jewelry collector to acquire a piece that would otherwise be quite expensive or difficult to find.