‘I use dead people’s teeth, ashes and hair to make jewellery – yes I’m morbid’

Some of us prefer diamonds, others prefer sapphires, but a woman in Australia is dividing the internet by creating jewellery made out of dead people's teeth.

Owner of Grave Metallum Jewellery, Jacqui Williams, 29, sells rings, bracelets and necklaces that incorporate human remains – be it teeth, hair, ash or even a loved one's IUD.

Jacqui, who previously worked as a gardener at a local cemetery, admits she's a bit morbid, but stresses that her jewellery help loved ones to grieve.

She said: "I incorporate teeth into anything a client requests and that can be made out of metal.

"I do this work because I want to help people deal with their grief and loss as it's something that is guaranteed for every living thing.

"My most memorable requests I have been asked are using an IUD in a piece of jewellery, in which I did decline due to it being plastic, and turning the bullet casing, from the bullet that a client's grandfather shot himself with into a piece of jewellery."

Each custom piece takes Jacqui between six and eight weeks to create and costs between £190 ($350 AUD) and more than £5,400 ($10,000 AUD).

Jacqui, from Melbourne, Australia, said: "I have always seemed to be drawn to the morbid side of life, even as a child.

"'It definitely wasn't just a phase for me.

"My interest in helping others deal with their grief started when I lost my best friend a few years ago. Grief is always easier to deal with when shared."

She studied for a diploma in jewellery and object design at Melbourne Polytechnic until 2017, but after graduating struggled to find a job within the industry – so decided to create her own.

She said: "The first two years of my business I was working full time in bars and restaurants, as well as working before shifts and days off on making new pieces and working on custom orders.

"Within my third year, as business picked up, I was fortunate enough to get out of night work and hospitality and landed a part-time job as a gardener at a local cemetery.

"I am now currently running my business full-time since leaving the cemetery in July of last year."

Jacqui is sent the teeth from her clients who have often held on to removed wisdom teeth or children's milk teeth.

"Most mothers will have a collection of their children's and a lot of people will hold onto their own pulled teeth and they would be found within the deceased estate," she said.

She is even sent in some removed from the deceased – gold or metal capped teeth are nearly always removed from the body prior to burial or cremation.

The piece is designed based on the customer's requests and can incorporate precious metals, like silver, gold and platinum, or precious gemstones such as sapphires and diamonds.

Jacqui said: "I work with both the ashes and the hair of the deceased, including pet's that have died.

"I work with lost wax casting, so sometimes the piece will be carved in wax and cast into precious metal, and other times I will hand fabricate the whole piece using precious metal sheet, wire and stock gauge.

"I am currently making a sterling silver and brass framed hourglass with the 'sand' being the ashes of my client's grandfather.

"My most expensive was an 18ct rose gold wedding ring with her husband's tooth set in a halo of sapphires and garnets. That was $7,500 AUD (£4,050)".

Jacqui's family and friends support her business, unsurprised her lifelong morbid curiosity made its way into her career, but she does receive some online backlash.

The jeweller said: "I receive all sorts of different reactions, some people love my work, others hate it, some are disgusted by the teeth and bone work.

"Most of my customers tell me they wear their pieces daily. I thrive on working with people one-on-one to create the perfect piece for them.

"I am motivated by making thought provoking pieces with things that would often be discarded or things that hold a taboo and to open up conversation about the macabre and morbid side of life."

More of Jacqui's work is on her website www.gravemetallumjewellery.com

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