A recent custom design commission challenged me to dream up ways to incorporate symbolic imagery into a very special piece. The inspiration? An ouroboros!…
What is an Ouroboros?
While the name might be unfamiliar, this image is one used in countless cultures across the globe—I’m sure you’ve seen it! It’s a snake (or sometimes dragon or serpent) circling on itself, swallowing its own tail.
Rich with layers of meaning, the ouroboros (pronounced OOR-uh-BAW-ros) symbolizes the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Found in ancient texts, alchemists’ writings, artifacts’ carvings, and religious texts from China, Egypt, Greece, India, and more, it’s a symbol that has proven again and again to have deep meaning around the world.
The Design Challenge
My challenge? How to bring this image into a modern jewelry design, for my client, Angela!
Already a collector of ouroboros jewelry, Angela wanted a more personal take on the traditional design—something unique to her. She envisioned her custom ouroboros ring with striking blue sapphire eyes, a hidden engraving, and gorgeously detailed overlapping scales, with an overall strong and feminine feel to the piece.
In order to create this unique organic form, I sketched the ring by hand, and then translated it into an initial pencil sketch and a 3D-rendered design shown here. I requested an initial wax model, and when Angela tried it on, she loved the design, but wanted it to be a bit heftier. So we went ahead and increased the width of the whole design by 1mm. I was then able to tweak the intricate details of the ouroborus before getting Angela’s seal of approval, and then we moved the piece into production!
The Final Piece
At the very end, our final touch was engraving Angela’s meaningful custom message inside the ring: FEAR IS THE MIND KILLER. Yes!!