Dior Tête de Mort: the friendly face of skull jewellery

Victoire de Castellane's playful Dior Tête de Mort skull rings and necklaces add a new twist to the long tradition of memento mori jewels.

Dior tete de mort amethyst ring front view Price £7650

The tradition of memento mori jewels dates back to the 15th century when miniature bejewelled skulls and skeletons reminded the wearer of their fleeting presence on this earth. Meaning ‘remember you must die’ memento mori  jewels are intended to remind the wearer of the Latin phrase carpe diem  and seize the day as if it were your last. Read more about the history of memento mori jewels here. 

Each of the three versions of Dior's Tête de Mort two rings is slightly different and feature details that relate to Christian Dior's life and loves. Price £7650 and £7150

In the hands of Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s Creative Director, candy-coloured little skulls are decorated with diamond eyes and quirky bejewelled details.  Skulls are not new to Ms. de Castellane's repertoire but these are the most accessible and wearer-friendly of her incursions into the morbid side of jewellery. Former skull jewels include the memorable 2009 high jewellery collection Reines et Rois, a series of one-off ghoulish skulls each adorned with miniature regalia. See more Dior jewels here

A view of the back of Dior's Tête de Mort yellow gold and amethyst ring revealing an engraving of four hearts arranged like a clover that was one of Mr Dior's favourite lucky charms.  Price £7650

The three versions of the rings and matching pendants each have a little story to tell. The stones were chosen as symbols of a state of mind: amethyst for balance, pink quartz for peace and chalcedony for strength. And as always, there is a link back to Mr. Christian Dior himself. Known to embrace the spirit of carpe diem Mr. Dior proclaimed in his Little Dictionary of Fashion: ‘Whatever you do – for work or for pleasure – do it with passion! Live with passion!’

We see Mr. Dior’s love of lily of the valley in the floral crown atop the chalcedony skull. The couturier was known to wear the flower in his button-hole or slip it into the hems of haute couture gowns. The four-leaf clover was another of his favourite charms that is jauntily placed in the corner of the mouth of the amethyst skull. The bands of the rings are linked chubby hearts and the tips of the cross bones are heart-shaped and set with diamonds.

These are the friendliest little skulls I have seen for a long time and however improbable, they seem to be smiling and encouraging us to enjoy our every day and night.

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