The symbolic hidden meaning behind Johnny Depp’s skull jewellery

Psychotherapist Andrea Harrn looks at the skull jewellery worn by Johnny Depp and also as his alter ego Jack Sparrow and analyses what it says about his personality. Skull rings traditionally denote both a free spirit and also a symbol of equality, we're all going to die.

Story by Andrea Harrn

Looking at the style of jewellery that Johnny Depp wears might say a lot about his character and the image he wants to convey. We can read many things about a person from how they dress, their fashion sense, hairstyles and jewellery. Our external image says a lot about how we project ourselves onto the world and how we want to be seen by others. Our persona is reflected in our image and that image portrays our identity. That imprint can become a powerful brand leading to success, especially in the world of celebrity.

We are what we wear!  Or are we?

Depp has a massive collection of skull jewellery that is both interesting and intriguing. The skull as jewellery has held a widespread charm throughout societies for many centuries.  The Death’s Head skulls or skulls with missing jaws were symbols of membership to a societal underworld.  These days similar rings are popular with bikers, gun clubs and other groups deemed separate from mainstream society. Brotherhoods and fraternities identified by the skull insignia symbolizing toughness,  bravery – and a  “don’t mess with me” attitude.  

Johnny Depp skull ring
Johnny Depp’s skull ring by Alfred Albrizio

A skull ring also denotes the image of a free spirit, a person that lives life to the max, plays by their own rules, full of energy, passion, and love, embracing risk and mortality, seizing the day. A rebellious fashion statement. It is also a symbol of equality, we are all going to die – so we can all buy one, wear one and join the club. 

Wearing skull rings or necklaces is for the non-conformist, the edgy, risky, tough, resilient and  bold. A sign of enhanced masculinity.   The warrior amongst warriors. The skull is a symbolic representation of both life and death. In Greek mythology, Thanatos represents death or self harm with Eros being the god of love, fertility and passion. The human manifestation of death or self-harm v. the sexual energy of life and passion makes the skull a powerful talisman of hope and redemption. A macabre representation of identity with death wish synergy flying high on the wings of the wearer. 

Johnny Depp's skull rings
Johnny Depp skull ring by Alfred Albrizio (Getty Images)

Wearing a skull ring can bring meaning to life and can be affirming for identity and purpose.  It also brings connection to others. The outsider at some level also wants to belong. A tough exterior is sometimes the shield of insecurity, so being part of a group gives an identity to group members such as cohesion and common fate. The skull is the symbol of unity but can also be a shield for our inner demons. Some people believe that wearing a skull acts as an amulet or charm to protect and ward off bad luck, bringing good luck and fortune, thus fulfilling unconscious desires for security, peace and happiness

Skull jewellery can be gothic, punk, encrusted with gems and overlaid with  protective crystals or plain and simple in design.  It can be adorned with crossbones, crosses, butterflies, snakes, wings or bows.  Each adornment will have its own meaning for the wearer. 

We can learn a lot about ourselves from the jewellery or precious stones or crystals that we choose to wear.

Depp really embraces the skulls on his fingers as a huge part of his identity and the identity of the dangerous and charming Jack Sparrow, the pirate character in Pirates of the Caribbean. He described having built Jack Sparrow from the ground up and something he put a lot of himself into.    When Sparrow become chief of the tribes he sat on a grand throne decorated with skulls and bones. He already had a number of skull rings so he was almost made for the part. When you think Johnny Depp you see Jack Sparrow, the rings, the hair, the bones, the skulls, the charisma.  Once seen never forgotten. 

Johnny Depp skull and amethyst rings
Johnny Depp skull ring by Alfred Albrizio (Getty images)

So let’s try and understand Johnny Depp’s compelling fascination with skulls. If we look at what has been openly reported in the press and in the course of the recent trial, we learn that he had a difficult and very insecure childhood. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey he talked of moving house at least 40 times before the age of 15. A child that is moved around a lot will find difficulty in forming long and lasting friendships.   

He told Hello magazine that when he was 12 his parents were “always fighting” and “he hardly had any contact with the outside world”. He has spoken of himself and his siblings suffering violent physical abuse at the hands of his mother and beatings by his father, as well as bullying and name calling. His childhood life was unpredictable. There was no safety or security.

His collection of skulls might be seen to represent the strong side of himself, the resilient boy that grew from a wounded child into the bad boy/tough man, rising above his troubled past. In creating this persona he leaves behind the demons whilst at the same time carrying them with him. The life and death symbols of the skull could be the representation of his past, the unpredictability of never knowing when and what form of violence might be heading his way but also his future moving forward with enhanced confidence and bravado.  

One of his skull rings was cast in gold with eyes of amethysts and purple stones on the band indicating that he may also be on a spiritual journey. The Amethyst is a protective stone said to be incredibly healing and purifying, helping to rid the mind of negative thoughts.   The colour purple is also the colour of the crown chakra, the seventh energy centre located at the crown of the head.  It is the most potent energy providing a direct connection to the spiritual and divine wisdom. His favourite number is also apparently No. 3 which also holds powerful symbolism. Things come in 3s:  The birth/life/death connection. Past, present and future. Mind Body Soul. 

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and as himself is as charismatic as complicated. Whichever line of life or death he walks, he will walk it well. One thing can be sure, a skull ring can never save a person from himself but like all pirates he will live to battle another day.

Andrea Harrn is the best selling author of The Mood Cards available on Amazon


Instagram: @themoodcards

Like this? Read about Johnny Depp’s jewellery collection