Designer: Julia deVille

New Zealand-born accessories designer Julia deVille pays tribute to Victorian mourning jewelry and “Memento Mori” (“reminder of our mortality”) jewelry of the 15th-18th centuries.

Working with gold and silver, wood, and, yes, taxidermy and human hair, deVille produces eerie yet inviting designs. Besides using materials common to Memento Mori, she uses symbols of death in her pieces (everything from skulls to actual dead animals).

DeVille bailed after studying footwear for awhile in Melbourne, but transferred her leatherwork skills to accessories line Abattoir. In 2002 deVille met a taxidermist and routinely observed his craft.

The next year she started studying gold and silversmithing. Ultimately she combined leatherwork, taxidermy, and jewelry design and established her label DISCE MORI (Lern To Dyi). She now has a full range of jewelry — rings, bracelets, brooches, necklaces, cuff links, key fobs — as well as leather gloves and spats, and even exhibition pieces.

The result? Dark, sterile pieces with an obvious goth feel. I find the animal pieces a lot more interesting than most of the regular jewelry — it’s a huge attempt to make art and prettiness out of something a lot of people might find gross or weird.

Oh, and PETA people, take note: deVille speaks to her respect for animals in her Artist Statement, and uses “only animals that have died of natural causes.”