Even though I write about jewelry an awful lot here on Tokyo Telephone, I do worry that sometimes I reflect my own tastes too much and don’t get to grips with what is actually big on the streets and bodies of the Japanese silver fans.  Well on this occasion I get a rare opportunity to do both in the form of “anima exists in all creation” which I think does a really good job of reflecting the current state of Japanese made silver.  As I have talked about in the past, Chrome Hearts, Bill Wall leather, Travis Walker and many other biker brands were largely responsible for causing the “silver boom” that saw an avalanche of new jewelry brands flourish in Japan in the early 2000s.  Out of this wave of silver there was a huge amount that was truly original like Ken Blood’s Holloow, Legio Made and many more that I am a personal collector of, but there was also an awful lot that took very literal inspiration from their gothic inspirations.

Fast-forward to around 2008 and it was becoming clear that those latter brands had evolved and matured into a uniquely Japanese version of the Neo Gothic.  They were also massively successful and became the style of choice for young men whether it was in Shibuya, Ueno or Harajuku – this aesthetic was pervasive and clearly quite persuasive to boot.

Thankfully out of that glut there are a couple of real diamonds and one of my personal favorites has to be anima.

The designer hails from the Hiko Mizuno Jewelry school in Harajuku and I even had a chance to buy his graduate collection from their shop Corazon Corazon on cat street a couple of years ago.  As it happens I only brought one ring, but I wish I had picked up this magnificent bangle before he started to get popular…

His work ticks all the boxes of neo gothic: feathers, crosses, crowns, skulls and all finished with floral and vine flourishes.  You really can’t go wrong.

It is not all to my taste, but a brief glance at the fingers of my male friends reveals that this is clearly the vibe of the moment.

I would say that anima’s particular strength is in building slightly futuristic elements into his work – the kind of neo baroque beloved of Final Fantasy.

I think this kind of aesthetic can work with most men’s wardrobe and would be a great entry point for those looking to start accessorizing (I do warn you that it is a slippery slope!)

Really like this hidden pearl ring – fantastic.

Even though the designer mostly sticks to garnets, he can do most stones on request.  I am a particular fan of any use of fire opals like the above, especially in this chunky organic setting.

And like most designers, you have to wait to see their custom work to see them flex their muscles:

Come on, you have to admit that that is an impressive level of detail.  This guy has just gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years – definitely one to watch.

And a nice couple of bolos to finish with.  If I wear a tie, it is always a bolo.

So there you go, another truly talented Japanese silver designer and a great example of this particular aesthetic.

If you want to see some of his amazing custom work then head on over to his blog complete with links to his stockists.  Stay tuned here for more silver in the future, and trust me, I will never run out of silver to share.

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8 Responses to anima exists in all creation – Neo Japanese Gothic Silver for Men

  1. Clare says:

    Really dig those rings! Very unisex, detailed and not too “necro-gothic”. I’m a fan of the way SoulFetish incorporate mediaeval, gothic and art deco architectural motifs into their designs, so no surprise I like these rings.Garnets are always my stone of choice for silver. They seem to breathe life and fire into silverwork like no other gem, though I also have a skull ring with a fire opal eye and when the light strikes it just so, it looks amazing!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Samuel says:

    Hi Claire, well yes you really can’t talk about this kind of work without talking about Soul Fetish. I have a good friend who has brought 90 percent of his gear from Soul Fetish and again, mostly with garnets. It is just one of those perfect combinations.

    I am also glad you brought up fire opals, personally I love opals of any kind and especially next to silver. The Great Frog do a really good line in chunky opals – definitely check them out if you get the chance. I will have to dig out my pictures from Theo Fennel in London when I last stopped in to see their carved opal skull rings. They were amazing, but I think they came in at the best part of 14000 pounds…

  3. Clare says:

    Ouch! Do you know what sort of opal they carve? Would love to see.
    Couldn’t see anything on Great Frog’s web site – do they do an extra range for the Japanese market? Crazy Pig have an opal option for some of their rings, though I’m wondering if it’s natural or lab grown (at their prices, you’d hope the former).
    Funny thing, I live in the country that produces about 98% of the world’s gem quality opal (no fire opal, though) and I love the stuff but don’t own any, mostly because every bit of opal jewellry I’ve ever seen is beyond hideous (Whoever thought a milky opal embedded in a nickel plated kangaroo would be appealing? Or that opals, diamonds and yellow gold would be a sympathetic combination?) That, and the fact that top grade Lightning Ridge black opal is worth more per carat than top grade diamond. Below is a site that has a huge range of the most jaw droppingly beautiful opals and they’ll also make them into jewellry for you (though I don’t think they do goth or biker!). Oh, and you can see videos (!) of the opals online so you can check out the colour flashes and fire.
    http://www.aussietreasurechest.com.au/default.asp
    Ah well, one day…must buy some opal as my patriotic and economic duty to my country…

  4. Samuel says:

    Here is a link to a carved black opal (taken on my iphone) with gold shank and cockroaches:
    http://tokyotelephone.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/IMG_0425.jpg
    Very nice indeed!

    I’m afraid that Great Frog don’t put any of their opals online (they are all only in stores) and as far as I am aware Crazy Pig only use natural stones (I have never seen them touch a zirconia either).

    That site is great, I have learnt a huge amount about opals in a very short space of time! I will have to do my bit for Australia and pick up a black opal one of these days.

  5. Clare says:

    Thanks for photo Samuel – very beautiful piece of work. I’ve seen lots of carved skulls in “semi-precious” material, like obsidian and jade, but I guess the price tag on this piece explains why no one’s using opal. It looks like they’ve carved a chunk of boulder opal (host rock attached) to reveal the layer of opal within, very nice indeed.
    Really enjoying the Skull Cup. Might silence a few old school critics who dismiss Japanese designers as a bunch of “me too” copycats. Shows how much depth there is to the silver scene over there and will definitely win over some new fans.

  6. Samuel says:

    Thanks Claire, on the subject of the opal it was 100% all opal (not boulder). The picture does not convey one single percent of how beautiful it was, every millimeter of the surface of the skull was alive with colour and especially as most of the opal was black it was especially beautiful. But yeah, I wish I had had a decent camera in the showroom.

    Japanese designers have always had a hard time competing with the insular boys club culture that has developed around silver outside Japan. I think a lot of the prejudice it is mostly based on just how many silver brands there are in Japan, it is easier to dismiss it all rather than spend the years required to understand even half of it.

  7. Jess Horsley says:

    Thanks for the great write up – I found your site after a search as I’d been looking for a sterling skull ring. I have been wearing Guardia mostly as of late but wanted a heavy weight skull ring in my collection and, after contacting Masaaki-san, we agreed upon having him customize the OMNIS ring for me.

    His work is beyond impressive and the intricate details he puts into his art are impressive. My ring is complete and rarely leaves my finger. 71 grams of sterling, size 23 OMNIS ring with custom engraving and a silver cross in place of the gem – he recently posted a picture of the wax on his blog here – http://ameblo.jp/gallery-anima/

    Thanks again for posting the article and info!

  8. Samuel says:

    @ Jess

    Thank you for getting in touch, and I am so glad you have picked up some work from the amazingly talented Anima – your custom is beyond cool! I too mix a bit of Anima with Guardia on a daily basis, not least because I asked Guardia to design our wedding rings. I should post the results – they do not disappoint.

    I will try and post some more Japanese silver soon and in the meantime feel free to contact me via the email address on the “about” page if you need any info on the Japanese silver scene.

    Thanks again.

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