Japanese Jeweler Shinji Nakaba Carves Intricate Miniature Skulls from Pearls

Shinji Nakaba, is a Tokyo-based jewelry designer who creates intricately carved pearl skulls using the ancient art of the Glyptic, a technique through which hard stones and gems are carved and engraved. He also creates incredibly detailed pearl skull rings called “Vanitas”, which are inspired by 16th-17th century funerary art. Work of this type emphasizes the meaninglessness of earthly life “and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.” Nakaba has been making jewellery and ‘wearable sculpture’ out of unconventional materials since 1974. “I just want to bring brand new life to something that has no value,” he says, “I use not only precious metals and stones, but also everyday things, such as aluminum beer cans, plastic bottle, or even garbage."

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