Shinji Nakaba is a Tokyo-based jewelry designer who’s been creating since 1974. Everything he makes is wearable, and Nakaba often uses unconventional materials to create his pieces. These intricately carved pearl skulls are an example of his exceptional work.
“I just want to bring brand new life to something that has no value,” Nakaba tells Magnifico. “I use not only precious metals and stones, but also everyday things, such as aluminum beer cans, plastic bottle, or even garbage,” he explains on Etsy.
“Vanitas” is carved into many of Nakaba’s skulls. This is Latin for “vanity,” and is likely a reference to 16th-17th century funerary art. Work of this type emphasized the meaninglessness of earthly life “and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.”