My 15 year old daughter is going through a rebel phase. She talks about tattoos and piercings and she wanted a snake ring! So I made her a ring in silver with a chocolate diamond on its head and little ruby eyes:
This got me thinking and researching on the web. I found that present day celebrities and Hollywood personalities are also in to snake rings.
Nicole Richie, Angelina Jolie, Adam Lambert (of American Idol fame), Paris Hilton, Heidi Klum, Elisabeth Taylor, Jennifer Lopez, and even Michelle Obama own serpent rings and many can be seen on the web if you just google their names.
The fictitious character of Lucius Malfoy (from the Harry Potter series) also sports a snake ring, presumably as a reminder of his Slytherin House heritage. The Potter stories are rife with allusions to serpent mythology. Both Harry and He-Who-Must–Not–Be-Named speak Parseltongue (the language of snakes) and the monster snake Nagini, has a central role in the series.
So I wondered where this trend comes from. Romans and Greeks may have started the trend, but it was Queen Victoria herself who famously received a gold snake ring, meant to give good luck, as an engagement ring from Prince Albert. At that time serpent rings were very popular. The snake motif, was believed to be the sign of eternal love.
Interestingly, serpents are part of the mythology of nearly every human culture. These mythical creatures can be threatening and bad (the snake in the story of Adam and Eve), but they can also be good and comforting, such as the snake on the staff of Aesculapius, the mythical greek healer, which is now the emblem of modern day medicine.
If you are in to psychology there is tons of stuff on snakes. In particular C.G. Jung was fascinated by the Ouroboros, an ancient symbol showing a serpent eating its own tail. One drawing of the Ourobouros dates back to Cleopatra. This symbol shows up in an amazing number of different historical civilizations: ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India (Kundalini energy in Yoga), Aztec and Toltec ruins in Mexico, Norse mythology, Alchemists, Freemasonry, and West African religions…The Wiki site has more details and references.
In current times, however, I think the trend to wear a snake ring is either due to a fascination with reptiles (my 15 year old would have a pet snake if I allowed it) or it is a manifestation of rebellion and counterculture. This fits well with general teen behavior, but also with the bad boy image of Adam Lambert, the tumultuous life of Nicole Richie, and the rebellious history of Angelina Jolie who famously once said “I am…just a punk kid with tattoos”.