Bulgari Serpenti: The Snake You’ll Willingly Wrap Yourself In

Snakes bring anxiety and fear in nearly half of the population. Their slithering movement, sharp fangs, and often venomous bite make them creatures many would rather avoid. However, there’s one snake that millions of people, with or without ophidiophobia, would love to wrap themselves in — the Bulgari Serpenti collection. Far from conjuring terror, the Serpenti is an iconic symbol of power and wealth. This serpent transforms fear into fascination, offering a beguiling blend of art and craftsmanship that has mesmerized jewelry lovers for over 75 years.


History of the Bulgari Serpenti

Before snakes became synonymous with Bulgari’s Serpenti line, the reptile has been a nefarious creature in tales dating as far back as “the beginning of life.” If one recalls, a snake tempted Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Since then, the serpent inspired countless myths and legends across cultures, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Pharaohs of Egypt and many more.

A Symbol of Healing

Snakes didn’t always wear the skin of menace and distrust. In ancient Greece and Rome, they manifested healing. Asclepius, the Greco-Roman god of medicine, carried a rod entwined with a serpent. The healthcare industry continues to use this motif, which is most evident in The World Health Organization’s logo.


An Insignia of Power and Protection

a photo of a woman with a snake on her shoulder

The head ornaments of Egyptian deities and pharaohs featured a rearing cobra (uraeus) to imply their divine or royal status. They also believed that wearing a snake symbol on their heads would protect Egypt from the forces of chaos.


An Expression of Love

In 1839, Prince Albert designed an 18K gold snake-shaped ring for Queen Victoria. Representing everlasting love, the breathtaking piece had ruby eyes, diamond accents, and an emerald center (Queen Victoria’s birthstone). The reptile’s tail was in its mouth to form an unbroken circle, which depicted the royal couple’s unending love, even after Albert’s untimely death.


The Early Years of Bulgari Serpenti (1948-1960s)

Bulgari designed its introduction to the Serpenti collection in 1948: a gold bracelet-watch with a square dial and a flexible body that goes around the wrist. The Italian luxury house crafted this pliant piece of jewelry using the Tubogas technique, which involves wrapping gold coils around a core in a spiral pattern. In harmony with the era’s retro style, the avant-garde piece introduced a sinuous silhouette that the world had never seen before. Soon, Serpenti jewelry designs were in high demand.

By the 1950s, the design evolved further, taking on a serpentine form with a lifelike snake head adorned with precious stones, including rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Concealed within the mouth of the snake head was the dial of the Bulgari Serpenti watch, earning it the moniker of a “secret watch” within the industry.

In the 1960s, the piece’s body took on a more sophisticated design, showcasing scale patterns fashioned from sheet gold linked with gold pivots. Some variations had vibrant enamel for added color, while gemstones like onyx, lapis lazuli, jade, coral, and turquoise enhanced the scales’ appearance.


close up photo of cartier books

Rising Above the Competition

The 20th Century witnessed other jewelers, including Cartier, explore serpent designs. In 1968, Cartier crafted a snake necklace for Mexican actress María Félix. The piece had 2,473 diamonds set in platinum, white gold, and yellow gold, with emerald eyes and colorful enamel scales.

Regardless, Bulgari remained synonymous with snake jewelry. The Serpenti collection continues to be one of the brand’s best-selling collections, even after going tail to tail with industry giants.

The “Elizabeth Taylor Effect”

In the 1960s and 1970s, Bulgari reinstated the Tubogas technique. The brand also enhanced the Serpenti watch with a geometric-shaped dial, which echoed contemporary design trends.

This era also marked an evolutionary association with Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. While filming the movie Cleopatra at Cinecittà Studios in Rome, the multi-award-winning actress purchased a Bulgari Serpenti watch. It was a fitting choice given her portrayal of the famous Egyptian queen, who herself had an affinity for lavish jewelry.

Elizabeth Taylor’s personal life during this period was highly publicized due to her involvement in an infamous love triangle with her then-husband, Eddie Fisher, and her Cleopatra co-star, Richard Burton. The intense media scrutiny surrounding Taylor kept her in the spotlight and brought unprecedented attention to Bulgari. Despite the affair, Taylor’s public appearances with Bulgari’s pieces, which she often wore on and off set, boosted the brand’s reputation, helping elevate its status from a distinguished Roman jeweler to a global luxury brand.


Bulgari Serpenti in the 21st Century

In 2010, Bulgari combined two of its most cherished design elements, the Tubogas body and the serpent head, to produce the Serpenti Tubogas collection. This innovation marked a milestone for the brand, merging the sleek and modern lines of the Tubogas with the timeless, mythical tempt of the serpent. Seven years later, in 2017, Bulgari unveiled the Twist Your Time collection, featuring the Bulgari Serpenti watch with a stylish wrap-around leather strap, adding a contemporary twist to the classic design.


Expanding Beyond Bracelet Watches

close up photo of a snake's tail


Bulgari expanded the Serpenti motif into various jewelry forms, allowing the sinuous serpent to coil around necklaces, bracelets, and rings. This expansion showcased Bulgari’s ability to blend high jewelry craftsmanship with versatile, everyday elegance. For those seeking sophisticated, striking, yet casual pieces, Bulgari introduced the Serpenti Viper collection. The mythical snake’s ability to shed its skin, which symbolizes rebirth and evolution, is the inspiration behind the line.

Bulgari’s commitment to improving and growing the Serpenti line has helped the brand cater to a wide range of tastes and occasions, offering wearers a plethora of styling options. Today, like a cobra hypnotizing its prey, the collection continues to fascinate and mesmerize, embodying the brand’s innovation, versatility, and timelessness.


The Bulgari Serpenti is a pinnacle of luxury and artistry. With its rich history and classic design, each piece in the collection is proof of Bulgari’s dedication to quality and excellence. From the first-of-its-kind Tubogas bracelets to the brilliant Serpenti Viper line, every piece exudes a charm that attracts discerning collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. These jewelry must-haves also hold value due to their impeccable craftsmanship and the prestige associated with the Bulgari name.

Whether you own high jewelry or a more casual design from the collection, you can be confident in its worth. If you want to sell your Bulgari Serpenti or use your investments as collateral for a loan, Biltmore Loan and Jewelry offers competitive prices, ensuring you receive top value for your pieces. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to receive the best price for your Bulgari Serpenti watch or jewelry. Get an online appraisal or visit us today in Scottsdale, Arizona.