Marilyn Monroe once said that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. But fashion designer Lucie Majerus thinks jewelry pieces made from — wait for it — human teeth are the real gems. The Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands, graduate came up with the idea for her “Human Ivory” collection after having her wisdom teeth removed. She worked her pearly whites into a ring and has since designed earrings, pins and cufflinks out of the material. The Dutch Majerus explains why she decided to cut herself a unique career in the fashion industry.
Why did you decide to create jewelry out of your own teeth?
While researching abundant and scarce materials, I was intrigued by the amount of meat industry waste and the lack of ivory. Not only elephants have teeth, but what happens to cow and pig teeth? Why don’t we value other teeth as well? When I lost my own wisdom teeth, I kept them and came up with the idea for Human Ivory.
What’s the main point of it?
I want to twist our perspective on valuable materials and reconsider conventional value. The concept is to suggest a new cultural behavior where we humans look for value within our own material. A tooth can only be harvested when it naturally falls out or when it has to be pulled out due to medical reasons. The idea is to turn a moment of loss into a more positive experience. Human Ivory proposes an egalitarian jewelry collection, where the body is being adorned with its own gem. I transform human teeth, which are often viewed with disgust, into something beautiful.
Where do you source the teeth?
I used my own wisdom teeth for the ring. I got teeth from two of my teachers at the Design Academy Eindhoven and made jewelry for them. Furthermore, I also asked my dentist to collect adult teeth for me to experiment with. However, the idea is that people can send me their own teeth and I will make jewelry for them.
How do you actually create the accessories?
I use all sorts of different adult teeth; our molars are big enough to make pearl shapes and incisors are longer and can be transformed into tear drop-shaped gems. I clean them in bleach before polishing them with a stone-polishing machine. If a tooth has a hole, I will repair it like a dentist with a white filler. Inspired by the Japanese philosophy about the beauty of imperfection, I play with the idea that we can become more beautiful through our own imperfection.
Is it hard to make them?
Teeth are the hardest part of the human body, but they are softer than stones. As they are very small, one needs a lot of patience and love for details to work on them. Also, every tooth is different in shape, size and strength, so I need to adapt the design process each time.
I would like to continue the project and take commissions for bespoke jewelry. If you lose a tooth at the dentist, I can make jewelry out of it. Maybe this concept could make going to the dentist a less traumatic experience…