By Brecken Branstrator
092115_10X-Veritas ringSince a recent trip to New Orleans, where I found beautiful and delicate colorful hand-painted Calaveras (the skulls used in Day of the Dead celebrations) all over the city that again piqued my interest, this blog is perfectly timed.

Japanese artist and jeweler Shinji Nakaba has been making “wearable sculptures” out of unconventional materials for more than 40 decades.

He says that he uses “not only precious metals and stones but also something usual, such as aluminum beer can or plastic bottle, or even some discarded materials.”

Among some of his coolest pieces, in my opinion, are these carved pearls. The set includes human and animal skulls carved from pearls and attached to jewelry such as rings and brooches.


Most of the skulls also feature the inscription “Vanitas” on the back, the Latin word for “vanity,” which could be a reference to 16th and 17th century funerary art.


Nakaba sells his pieces online. The carved pearl jewelry contains forged steel and generally is priced somewhere between $200 and $400.

His work also has been shown at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and other locations.

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