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How Bulgari Reimagined Its 75-Year-Old Serpenti Design as a Stylish New Choker

How Bulgari Reimagined Its 75-Year-Old Serpenti Design as a Stylish New Choker

Bulgari is shedding its skin—again. To celebrate 75 years of its most seductive design, the Roman jeweler has managed to put a new twist on its most recognizable motif. This platinum-set diamond, onyx, and cabochon-emerald choker presents a bird’s-eye view of a snake’s figure as it slithers around the neck.

Typically, a Serpenti design forms a loop, with the animal’s head meeting its tail below the wearer’s collarbone. This piece embodies a thoroughly modern and less literal presentation—no small feat when you consider the design has been continuously in vogue since the mid-20th century. But in fact, the new look is, at least in concept, closest to its earliest predecessor. The first Serpenti debuted in 1948 as a square-faced wristwatch with a coiled band; it wasn’t until the ’50s that a more literal expression, with a case shaped like a snake’s head, slid into Bulgari’s creative lexicon. The snake has long been represented in jewelry since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, as well as Greece. The two cultures, of course, had plenty of crossover and, interestingly, despite Bulgari’s roots as a Roman house, its founder Sotirios Voulgaris was of Greek origin. Surprisingly, however, the Serpenti did not make its way into the Bulgari realm until after his death. It was under the direction of his son, Giorgio, that the the serpent began tempting its patrons.

The design’s perennial allure continues to attract repeat and aspirational clients alike. Some men are even said to be after the serpent’s charm and, rumor has it, Bulgari could be creating one for gents in the future. The design continues to offer endless possibilities. Serpent rings, earrings, bracelets, watches and even handbags abound throughout the Bulgari offering. Suffice to say, it’s not easy to pick your poison. And while only a single buyer will get to own this one-of-one creation, others can at least enjoy Bulgari’s Serpenti Factory, a concept exhibition that will feature five inventive art installations by five different artists—all inspired, naturally, by the iconic design—when it opens in New York City in June. Whichever way Bulgari’s garden grows, its deliciously wicked creature will continue to illicit desires in clients around the globe.

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