" PEARL girl "

carved pearl , urushi , stainles steel ,  2017

























pearl skull single stud earring

Hand carved pearl, 18k gold ,









pearl size approximately 8.5x7x7.5mm


S.NAKABA Web-shop 







INTERVIEW by tokyo weekender

                                             Photography by Harumi Obama

We chat with jewelry designer Shinji Nakaba about his beautiful “fairy skulls,” which are intricately carved from tiny pearls, and the inspiration behind his innovative work.

The Kanagawa-born artist always aspired to create something unique, and in his early twenties he tried everything from dressmaking to hairstyling to try and fulfill this desire. But when Shinji Nakaba was introduced to jewelry making in 1974, he finally found his medium.

The self-taught designer and self-proclaimed rebel has since created a manifold collection of jewelry made from a range of materials such as aluminum, gold and even plastic bottles. His main focus is on revolutionizing glyptic art, the ancient tradition of engraving. And, as with the pearl skulls, his pieces often reflect a kind of modern vanitas, portraying the dark beauty that lies in decay.....Read more






































Where and when did you first have the idea to carve pearls?


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 that is 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. Even with knowing all these challenges,

I’ve always had this devilish thoughts of “carving pearls” in the back

of my mind. Around 2010, a friend gave me pearls that did not have

a core, so I started carving inward as much as I wanted, and the result

was absolutely stunning. I was so shocked by its beauty; however, I was

not sure if this could be sellable or even durable to wear, so I asked my

friend to wear it for a year. After one year, the skull looked even more

interesting with a weathered surface. Also, it did not break, thus I thought

this could be sellable! I’ve experimented with different type of materials

to carve out skulls (crystal, ivory, coral, precious stones,) but the ones I

carved out of pearls are by far the best in terms of the durability. I also

thought the contradiction between pristine pearls turning into these dark

objects seemed even more appealing. I now believe peals are born to be

carved into skulls, I would call them “Fairy Skulls. ”I believe innovation

is an offspring of “outlaw” and “curiosity".  


What is it about pearls as opposed to gems or other stones that drew you to them?


I am captivated by the unknown potential of pearls.   Read more....  







Skull & Snake Necklace

Hand carved keshipearl , 18kt gold , cotton code ,

pearl boy
hand carved pearl , inking(urushi) ,  2015

"VANITAS" earrings


      WHISPER Editions            Vanitas Pearl Necklace   

Hand carved pearl, red cotton cord , 18K Gold,

“Only pearls can make my idea of ephemeral beauty into reality,” says Shinji Nakaba, artist and creator of this special edition for Whisper. From an adjustable red cotton cord hangs a drop shaped skull, carved skillfully by Shinji from a white freshwater pearl roughly the size of a dime, impressive in their tiny scale. The necklace, designed to be worn by anyone, in any way — Shinji suggests with a tee shirt, with fur, or in the nude — is adjustable between 14 and 24 inches in length and fastened by a smaller silver pearl. This very special edition is extremely exclusive as only ten have been made. Each are numbered and hand signed by the artist, including the word “VANITAS.”    

Go to WHISPER  Editions

Read more about Nakaba on The Hourglass.

Adjustable between 14 and 24 inches in length and fastened by a smaller silver pearl. 

adjust 24 inches

adjust 14 inches


Congratulations!Lesley Vanderwalt wins Oscars 2016 Best Makeup and Hairstyling for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
Hand Carved Pearl, steel,  2016


ういうものなんですね 。

Yes, it was the beginning of last December when I received an e-mail 
from Lesley. That was before the nominations for the Academy
Awards had been decided on, but she contacted me, telling me that
she absolutely wanted me to make her a set of S.nakaba's "VANITAS"
necklace and earrings. She told me about her dress, her hairstyle and
even the color of her hair. We must have sent each other more than
twenty e-mails on the design of the jewelry. Her passion certainly
came through, so much so that I felt that until then she must have
made what she had in her imagination into a reality by relying on her
curiosity and intuition. Thanks to you, even I was able to experience
the exhilaration of having actually attended the Academy Award 
Ceremony. Thank you ever so much.

I came to know what jewelry could do for us-- to transform a glorious
moment in our lives into an even more glorious one that will remain
deep in our memory. 


GREAT ! Lesley is the superstar.
Her next is Ridley Scott's  Alien Covenant is scheduled to begin shooting. 
Cannot wait !

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