A mystery amethyst snake necklace, from a house in the Windermere area, is expected to make up to £8,000 in an online auction.

The fabulous jewel-encrusted snake is being sold by family members who never knew of its existence until the house was emptied when its owner died explains 1818 Auctioneer’s silver and jewellery valuer, Jackie Rothwell.

Jackie says the early 20th-century serpent collarette necklace is covered with amethysts on articulated links which give its slithery appearance. The head of the snake, which has emerald eyes, is covered in amethysts too with rose cut diamond chips.

Tested as being of gold and silver, it is being sold in its original case with a receipt from Byworth Antiques, London dated 1974. Jackie estimates it will make between £5,000 to £8,000 in the firm’s online auction which ends on Sunday 4 July.

“The family selling it say they’ve never seen it being worn or know how the owner came to have it,” says Jackie.

“Serpent jewellery became very popular in the Victorian era after Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a snake engagement ring with an emerald, her birthstone, embedded in its head. People began to associate the snake motif with eternal love. The popularity of this type of jewellery continued through to the 1920s as it matched the fluid lines and animal motifs of the Art Nouveau period.

“Snake jewellery was designed to wrap around fingers, wrists and necks and many, like this necklace, close with the mouth of the snake around the tail end. Designed as flexible coils they look like they are slithering around wrists or necks,” adds Jackie.

Anyone interested in finding out more can browse the online catalogue for fine antique and vintage jewellery and watches.

Bids and condition reports can also be made online or by phoning 1818 Auctioneers on 015395 66201.