It's no secret to friends, family, and regular readers of the Simple Shine blogs that I am a huge fan of jewelry that has a bit of edge to it. As I was looking through my jewelry today, I began to ponder the meaning of each piece. Only one really caused me to reflect on why I would purchase it, and that was the skull. What is the meaning of skull jewelry? Does it mean I have a death wish? Well that's objectively untrue considering I'm still here, so I decided to do my homework and the results were interesting enough that I felt it would be worth sharing with you.
What Is The History of Skull Jewelry?
The meaning of skull jewelry is a varied one. Many different cultures have utilized the skull for many different reasons. In the Elizabethan period of Europe rings would often feature what was known as a death's head skull. This skull featured no jaw and was symbolic of toughness and bravery. This was supposed to be a manifestation of the wearer's approval in the social underworld. If you saw somebody wearing a death's head, that was most certainly not a person you would want to trifle with.
In the Victorian era, a skull ring was the preferred way to solemnize lost loved ones, in addition to being a gentle reminder of one's own mortality, also known as a memento mori. It can also be a symbol of equality. No matter how rich or poor a person might be, no matter how good or evil they are, we are all headed the same way eventually. On top of that, as a skull we all look the same. It might be seen as a means of stripping away individuality, but I prefer to focus more on the unifying aspect of things.
On the other side of the coin, the Egyptians and Aztecs had a much different view of what a skull meant. To them it was a celebration of life, symbolizing the cycle of death and rebirth. Have you heard of the modern Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos? Of course you have. Pixar made an entire movie about it called Coco, so needless to say the Day of the Dead is finally starting to get its due.
Meaning of Skull Jewelry Today
While some meaning from the past has been inevitably infused, skull jewelry has since taken on a huge variety of new meanings. Chief among these is rebellion or toughness. Skulls have been utilized as a representation of these aspects ever since pirates chose to fly the jolly roger. Who is tougher or more rebellious than the pirates of yore? Well, obviously the people that ended up putting them out of commission. But hey, they had a good run right?
Punks, bikers, and rockers have been wearing skull jewelry since their inception. It probably does represent some of the aforementioned toughness and rebellion, but there is an additional layer there as well. Above all else it represents irreverence. Life doesn't last forever, so we need to make the most of things while we're still around. Disregard what society has prescribed for you, particularly if that doesn't make you happy.
There are tons of other reasons that skulls are utilized today. It can enhance masculinity in a way that the vast majority of jewelry could never manage. Put on a skull ring and tell me it doesn't make you feel just the least bit tougher. Still others believe that the skull shape can assist the wearer in finding fortune or good luck. The inferred meaning of skull jewelry is just as infinitely endless as the designs themselves, and I think that's one of the coolest things about them!
Elements to Define the Skull's Meaning
When combines with these items, a skull's meaning can be either enhanced or further defined.
- Crossbones: Symbolizes eternity, threat, or toxin.
- Crosses: Represents humanity's beginning.
- Butterflies: Signifies the changing nature of life.
- Snakes: Portrays immortality and/or knowledge of the next world.
- Wings: Signifies the freedom that's associated with the launch of the deceased into a more free spirit realm.
- Bows: Represents the current trend of female embrace of the skull and its connotations.
Caring for Your Skull
Skulls might represent eternity, but they won't last that long unless they get a bit of help along the way. Silver skulls will love a treatment from our silver complete jewelry cleaning kit!
Speaking of silver, we've got 5 tips to keep silver from tarnishing.
If you've got time for a more thorough clean, the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner can get in every nook and cranny to make that jewelry piece shine like new.
Why Should You Wear One?
If you can identify with any of the meanings associated with skull jewelry, I'd definitely suggest picking a piece or two up to work into your jewelry rotation. The skull carries many centuries of symbolic power, and even if the average person can directly discern the meaning when asked directly they will absolutely get a sense of the power that emanates from such an image. A skull is a deeply personal thing and there is no way a person can see one and not have any sort of reaction to it.
You don't need to be a punk rocker or a biker to wear skull jewelry. Heck, my own mother wears skull jewelry to symbolize the cycle of life and death. It a subject that makes her uncomfortable, but have a piece of jewelry that acts as a constant reminder does a lot to help her in coming to terms with the ever-changing nature of the world we live in. Nothing ever remains the same, except for my absolute love and admiration for the amazing pieces of artwork that are pieces of skull jewelry.