A pretty late Victorian hair comb in the form of a coiled serpent set with turquoise
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 4 ins h x 2 ins w (10 x 5 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1890s – 1900s
MATERIALS: metal, turquoise
This is a lovely little hair comb from the late Victorian period. It is an excellent example of the smaller and daintier hair accessories which became fashionable around the turn of the 20th century.
The comb is made in gilded metal with six long straight tines to hold it in place. The heading takes the form of a coiled and interlaced snake or serpent which is set along its length with graduated turquoise cabochons. A larger oval shaped stone is set into the head of the creature, which has little ruby eyes.
Around the turn of the 20th century there were changes in fashionable hairdressing, which favoured a softer and fluffier appearance. This led to a change in hair ornaments which decreased in size. Many of these ornaments are made in openwork or filigree silver or silver gilt, or with delicate airy patterns. Much of the colour disappeared from fashionable jewelry at this period, with a predominance of diamonds or diamond substitutes being used. However pale coloured materials such as coral and turquoise were still used in these beautiful and delicate ornaments.
Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.
Snakes held a special place in Victorian jewelry and were widely used. In 1839 the snake became one of the most iconic motifs in jewellery when Queen Victoria was engaged to Prince Albert. She received a continuous snake ring, which signified everlasting love for eternity, with an emerald, her birthstone, cantered in its head. Queen Victoria’s ring set a trend throughout England, and eventually throughout Europe, for a range of snake rings, as well as for all forms of jewelry that featured a snake. Among the most attractive are those set with turquoises, and a selection is shown in the final picture.
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