This Japanese Artist Takes Beautiful Pearls And Hand-Carves Them Into Adorable ‘Fairy Skulls’
Carl FombyPublished in December 2019 / Updated in January 2021
Death has never looked so adorable as in these tiny skulls from jewelry designer Shinji Nakaba, and they’re all crafted out of pearls!
Shinji Nakaba, a Tokyo-based jewelry designer, is standing out from the crowd with his beautiful fine art. This Japanese craftsman structures ideal gems, and silvery skulls are one of his favorite collections.
Since 1974, Nakaba has been making “wearable sculptures,” and the principle behind his artistry is to bring life into unconventional materials. He uses precious metals, stones, aluminum beer cans, plastic bottles, and other pieces of garbage. And that’s what makes his creations so unique.
Though he also uses silver, gemstones, and gold for his pieces, he particularly enjoys transforming everyday materials into exquisite, wearable jewelry.
On his website, Nakaba explains:
“I wanted to break the traditional idea of jewelry making. I did not want to be restricted by rules and traditions, which restricts creativity. By becoming an expert on traditional jewelry making, I wanted to utilize that skill to create something unconventional.”
“For example, traditionally, it is never ideal to carve pearls because it would ruin its integrity. I always thought pearls looked unnatural when polished to make them look smoother, to fix scars or scratches. Or when I tried to carve cultured pearls, the core would always emerge, and I ruined the pearls by peeling off the nacre.”
“I just want to bring brand new life to something that has no value. I use not only precious metals and stones, but also everyday things, such as aluminum beer cans, plastic bottle, or even garbage.
“Whether a precious gemstone, seashell, or plastic, I enjoy the process of carving, revealing the hidden beauty of all materials.”
After attempting several skull carvings with coral, crystal, ivory, and precious stones, the artist discovered coreless pearls were the best creation from his works.
The lack of core delivers a smoother carving, and there’s almost no risk of shredding or peeling.
Describing the pearl skull carvings, he says:
“I’ve experimented with different types of materials to carve out skulls, but the ones I carved out of pearls are by far the best in terms of durability. I also thought the contradiction between pristine pearls turning into these dark objects seemed even more appealing. I would call them Fairy Skulls.”
“Only pearls can make my idea of ephemeral beauty into reality.”
You can find lots of creations on Nakaba’s website and pick your favorite. He makes necklaces, rings, and even brooches.
I’d definitely love to have one of these adorable treasures.