Skulls in jewelry and watches

Since the beginning of time, it’s been used as a symbol of mortality, victory, the ultimate Memento Mori.

Long before Nazis turned the death-head into a symbol of fear and bikers and rockers a charm for cheating death, the skull represented the contemplation of eternity.

In Elizabethan England, it was an emblem of bawds, rakes and sexual adventure. It’s a symbol men, in particular, have always loved to paint, carve, cast, and wear.














Top to bottom:

Renaissance-style gilt verge watch, c. 1880, with engraved figure of Chronos inside, sold for $5,000 at Sotheby’s London in December 2010.

Silver skull-form watch with matching fob chain, late 19th century, sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for $3,438.

Pirate Dress Set (pair of cufflinks and three studs) by Michele della Valle of 18kt white gold, silver, bone, ruby and diamond, est. $3,000-5,000, sold for $18,750 at Sotheby’s New York on February 2, 2011.

Skull cufflinks by Deakin & Francis of diamonds in 18kt white gold with retractable ruby-set eyes, sold for $10,625 in February 2010 at Sotheby’s New York.

Stickpin skull with hinged jaw, made in France, c. 1867, of gold, enamel and diamond, sold for $19,570 at Sotheby’s London in 2003.

“For the Love of God” by British artist Damien Hirst, cast in platinum from the skull of a man who lived from 1720 to 1810, encrusted with 8,601 diamonds, and priced at $99 million in 2007.

Skull ring and matching earrings of carved coral, pavé diamonds, and 18k white and blackened gold, sold for $12,840 at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2007.

White gold cufflinks with diamond eyes by Ralph Lauren, priced at $10,995.

Charm bracelet by Michele della Valle of carved coral skulls with emeralds, rubies and diamonds set in gold, sold for $23,760 at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2010.

Related posts:

How to wear jewelry  like a rock star, part II

How to wear skulls like a rock star

How to wear jewelry like a rock star: ode to Jimi

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5 comments for “Skulls in jewelry and watches

  1. May 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Just found your blog….very nice! Especially this piece about “Skulls in Jewelry and Watches” as it reminded me of a stunning example of a skull pocket watch that I saw years ago in the Decorative Arts Museum in Prague. Thanks!

  2. March 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I bought some Peruvian ceramic Sugar skulls and made a wire Frida Kahlo inspired necklace and have had mixed responses – please take a look on facebook – would be interested to hear your thoughts, thanks

  3. Cathleen McCarthy
    March 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Fun! I’ll have to look into sugar skulls. Thanks for sharing, Neena.

  4. June 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Stumbled upon your blog by accident. Represent Stephen and Todd as well as Rodney Rayner and Shaun Leane so truly enjoyed your words and feeling for designers.
    Keep up the good work!

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