Snakes slither, cobras strike, and boas have been squeezing fear into humans for thousands of years. But snakes are also objects of fascination – because of their cunning strength and cunning that come from a special evolution. Bulgari has recognized the allure of snakes for 75 years, since creating its now iconic Serpenti jewelry in 1948.
Famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor — of whom Richard Burton once remarked, “The only word she knows in Italian is Bulgari” — the Italian luxury house’s Serpenti collection made a glamorous appearance at the 2023 Oscars on March 12. Host Pedro Pascal wore two Serpenti rings, while Angela Bassett, Cara Delevingne and Phoebe Waller-Bridge all shimmered in high-jewelry Serpenti necklaces sparkling with diamonds and emeralds.
Now through April 16, it’s possible to see an entire treasure trove of Serpenti jewelry in one place at a special pop-up — the house’s first ever in the U.S. — on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. A visit to the store, which celebrates the collection’s 75th anniversary, offers a deep dive into the ways snakes have inspired innovation at Bulgari over decades. Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti designs include everything from the house’s flexible Tubogas bracelets — which rotate on the wrist and feature “a precious head with eyes in rubies, emeralds or diamonds that hide the dial,” says Bulgari creative director Lucia Silvestri – to the elevation of snakes to the realm of high jewelry, which began in 2012 with the introduction of diamond Serpenti necklaces.
In the pop-up, not only are incomparable designs waiting to be discovered – from premium jewelery and fine jewelery to secret watches and leather goods – but the displays also provide insight into the creative process, the craftsmanship behind the glamour, innovative advertising campaigns over the years, and a look at some of the iconic women enamored with Serpenti, including everyone from legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland to current style star Zendaya.
The Euphoria Emmy Award winner wore the Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace to the 2021 Venice Film Festival, a stunning 93-carat emerald piece also featured in the Matthieu Menu-directed documentary Within the dream which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Doctor told Bulgari’s story and described the creative process behind his jewelry collections, with a special focus on Serpenti and the Hypnotic Emerald necklace and how it came about.
Silvestri says of the magnetism of snakes: “The symbolism of this icon is indeed very powerful and fascinating and has its roots in very ancient times. For example, in mythology, it was believed to possess transformative and regenerative powers, as well as healing powers due to its ability to shed its skin. This fascinating metamorphosis, combined with its seductive allure, makes it an icon that perfectly represents evolution, strength, self-determination and an intrinsically elegant spirit and charisma.”
Also, in the ephemeral shop, look for a sculptural installation by Italian artist Davide Quayole that was inspired by snake shapes and intentionally left unfinished.
The pop-up Serpenti celebrating Bulgari’s 75th anniversary is located at 431 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills.