The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.- Ecclesiastes 1:9
In 1978, Courts and Hackett created the iconic skull ring that Keith Richards made infamous. To this day, Keith Richards is never seen without it. It was and is the only one of its kind ever made; Courts and Hackett has said that they will never duplicate it. Recently, they have finally created another version of the ring that is for sale.
Today, skulls are ubiquitous. What was once a symbol of rebellion has become a household motif. The skull as adornment was not new even back in 1978. Before Keith Richards started to wear a skull ring, momento mori had already been “a thing” in Europe for several centuries.
Victorian Era Momento Mori Death Head Rings
Keith Richard’s ring, however, catapulted the skull ring and other skull jewelry into popular (secular) culture. Today, skull jewelry has gone from being associated mainly with Rock ‘n’ Roll and rebellion, to mainstream, and even the well-heeled. Cases in point:
A few years ago, Victoire de Castellane of Dior Fine Jewelry created a jaw dropping collection of carved gemstone skulls set in elaborate diamond mountings resembling opulent Moghul rulers.
Then there is Toronto based interior designer turned jeweler Holly Dyment whose enameled and jeweled creations are whimsical and yet resembles the Renaissance Revival master Giuliano with her use of opaque black and white enamel.
Holly Dyment Jeweled Enamel Rings
The hottest designer au courant is Lynn Ban whose jewels are seen on the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé. Her skulls are sleek and modern – Darth Vader like.
Lynn Ban Diamond Skull Rings
Today, the skull has become just another popular design motif like the fleur de lis, or the cross, or the heart . . . but it sure is interesting to think how these symbols came to be. In the case of the skull, I think Keith Richards had a lot to do with popularizing it and incorporating it into popular culture.
Like Rock ‘n’ Roll itself, what once was edgy and synonymous with youth culture, is now fully integrated and being refined. Gone are the days of metal skull t-shirts. It’s a new era of diamond encrusted couture designer skull fine jewelry and objet d’art. x