Desire for personal adornment is a universal human attribute that has been a part of civilizations for countless generations.
It’s likely that the early inhabitants of the southwest had jewelry and adornments made of rock, animal and plant materials. While various materials could be used, some were held in higher regard like turquoise. It is still a highly prized stone that is often associated with sky, water, and to some, symbolizes one of the six directions. Broken pieces of pottery were also fashioned into pendants to wear. Materials that already had a natural hole through the middle were chosen for adornment like fossilized crinoids. An oddity in the desert, shell bracelets and adornments were evidence of widespread trade as they were sourced from the coast and the Gulf of California. By the mid-1800s adornments and jewelry made of glass, ceramic, or metal were introduced in trade.
While Native Americans have been making jewelry since ancient times, silversmithing however was not introduced until the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Diné learned silversmithing from New Mexican Hispanos by the 1850s. Atsidi Sani was the first Diné accredited to making silver pieces in 1853. His students spread the skill by teaching others and even extending craft outside of the Diné. Over the years, new techniques and styles emerged as more and more native artists experimented with silver.
By the twentieth century, each tribe began to evolve their own techniques and create unique styles that incorporated native symbols and materials. Hopi Overlay, Zuni Inlay and Petit Point, Navajo Stamping, and Tufa Casting are examples of different styles that have emerged in the last century. Today’s contemporary work shows that artists are free to merge their own inspirations with the skills and traditions they have been passed down for generations.
Jerry WhagadoJeweler, Apache
Jerry is from the Western Apache culture and grew up on the Hopi Mesas. Jerry learned his silversmith skills years ago (in the late 1960's early 1970's) at the Hopi Guild under the tutelage of legendary Fred Kabotie. His unique silver overlay jewelry combines a historic Hopi art form with Apache symbolism.
Gloria CheeJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Gloria is from Cameron, AZ. She is self-taught in many forms of artwork such as beading, painting, and wood carving. Her art is a continual learning process that is constantly changing and forming new ideas. Gloria says, “art can teach you to be patient and positive.”
Leo CheeJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Leo is a self-taught artist and has been creating silver jewelry, incorporating natural turquoise, and other semi-precious stones for over 20 years. All of his jewelry is contemporary, but Leo uses traditional Navajo rug designs and very simple settings.
Sage GoldtoothJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Sage is a fifth-generation silversmith. He works with metals like silver and copper, to create rings, earrings, and bracelets. Sage says that for the Navajo people, the art of silversmithing carries many stories about their culture, their past, and their future.
Audra Little (Walters)Jeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Audra Little is from Tuba City, AZ. Audra learned from her family about stone carving and incorporates stones, shells, and pearls, in addition to using seed beads. Audra creates beadwork inspired by Diné culture, her travels, and the colorful personality of her three-year-old daughter. She also draws inspiration from Navajo geometric patterns and oral stories.
Jonathan MikeJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Jonathan was born and raised in Keams Canyon, AZ, but resides in Sanders, AZ, currently. He has been a silversmith for nearly thirty years. Jonathan began with leaf work design and then progressed to more contemporary styles. Jonathan gets his inspiration from what he experiences each day and likes to create jewelry that is simple, clean, and unique.
Justin MorrisJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Justin has been handcrafting silver jewelry for more than 30 years. Today his business is a family affair, with his 4 children also participating as silversmiths. Justin has had his share of hard times over the past 30 years and he credits his success to a positive mindset, saying "you keep your mind on the Creator and keep laughter close."
Henry NezJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Henry currently lives in Pinon, AZ, and credits his uncle with teaching him the art of silversmithing, but he has been creating his own distinct style of jewelry for the past twenty years. He is known for his silver bracelets and rings that are inlayed with natural stones. He also crafts necklaces, bolo ties, and earnings.
Bessie ShepherdJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Bessie’s entire life has revolved around the creation of arts and crafts, with her goal to always be resourceful. She wove as a child and started beading with glass beads in the early ‘70s. Bessie says, “Being Diné, we draw our inspiration from Earth, our Mother; Universe, our Father, and from our culture, language and traditions.”
Rosabelle ShepherdJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Rosabelle Teesyatoh Shepherd is a Silversmith residing in Sanders, Arizona. Her family has passed down the tradition of working with silver and Rosabelle is a fifth-generation silversmith. She specializes in silver and copper contemporary Diné work. Rosabelle enjoys working with turquoise as much as possible.
Herb ThompsonJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Herb is from the Redhouse Clan and was born and raised in Shiprock, NM. His grandfather was a silversmith in the late 1800s and Herb wished to carry on in his footsteps. He was able to support himself between construction and truck driving jobs by selling his work. After attending an art show, he began supporting his family full-time with his silversmithing skills. Herb loves sharing his knowledge and passion with the people who buy his work.
Veronica ThompsonJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Veronica is a Silversmith from Salt Clan and was born and raised in Tuba City, AZ. Veronica is a self-taught artist and has been creating jewelry for more than 30 years. She is known for her Navajo Rug design earnings. She loves using this design in her jewelry because she doesn’t weave, but feels like she still can create those traditional patterns in her silverwork. Her works have taken “Best in Show” in the past.
Arielle TsinigineJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Arielle was raised in Flagstaff, AZ, and she currently resides in Sanders, AZ. During her college years, Arielle needed income, so she turned to her mother for instruction and began beading under her direction. Arielle credits her mother, Rosabelle, as the person who continues to inspire and guide her through different jeweler techniques. Arielle says the inspiration for her artwork comes from the colors of Mother Nature and her Dine culture.
Marlene WaltersJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Marlene is from the Water Flows Together Clan is a retired teacher who is now a full-time artist and credits her family and Diné culture as her inspiration. Her husband, Roy Walters, influences her art and they work together as a creative team. Marlene believes to make the most of your journey, you need your language, culture, beliefs, nature, Holy People, and fine arts to guide you.
Jerrilyn YazzieJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
In 2009, Jerilyn moved back to the reservation and started to create jewelry as a way to generate income. She has expanded and learned how to create different kinds of jewelry. She credits her fellow jewelry makers, who have shared their knowledge and helped her grow. She started with very minimal resources, but now her knowledge of her craft has expanded beyond her expectations.
Patrick YellowhorseJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Pat Yellowhorse was born on the Navajo reservation in Ganado, AZ. He is a direct descendent of the Kiiyaanii clan. Pat began studying the art of silversmithing from his uncle Shush, where he learned the techniques of sandstone cast and lapidary. Pat continues to challenge himself with cutting edge contemporary designs and using traditional designs and techniques.
Lyle BalenquahJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Lyle is a member of the Greasewood clan from the Village of Bacavi on Third Mesa. He is not only an artist but also a professional archeologist. He draws inspiration from more than 20 years of experience working as an archaeologist in the American Southwest. Through this work, Lyle is able to see first-hand how his ancestors used natural materials to express themselves through their artwork. He works with various stones, seashells, and other natural materials to handcraft wearable artwork such as pendants and earrings.
Art BatalaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Art is from the village of Mishongnovi on Second Mesa. Over the years, he learned various methods of casting, including lost wax, and tufa casting, but through an apprenticeship, he learned his medium of choice is the traditional precision-cutting overlay. Art’s silver creations are motivated by his Hopi cultural up-bringing. "Every piece of my creations have important meanings in keeping my cultural heritage alive as taught to me by my grandfathers, uncles, fathers, all the Katsina, social activities, and cornfields,” he says.
Bennard and Francis DallasvuyomaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Frances and Bennard are a husband and wife team who both left successful careers to become full-time jewelers. Their innovative jewelry is a dramatic blend of both ancient and contemporary traditions, techniques, and materials. Cut and polished by hand, the natural gems and stones are set in a modern version of the ancient mosaic style. "We design each piece of jewelry to signify balance and harmony," says Bennard, "when we talk about balance and harmony, we mean that there is an order to everything and nothing is in disarray."
Jonah HillJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Jonah has been an artist for over ten years but is also a river guide, environmental educator, and ethnobotanist. Jonah has worked with various types of media and nature has given Jonah inspiration for his various types of expression. He uses the artistic process to express his love and concern for water and related environmental issues. “Love, light, and happiness are the keys to the universe,” says Jonah. He tries to express these keys in his artwork.
Marie HonyumtewaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Marie was born and raised in Carson City, NV, but later moved to her parent’s hometown of Bacavi, on Third Mesa. She first picked up beading when she was in grade school. Her interest in beading returned many years later after she attended several art shows with her son, Ahkima. Beading is not a traditional Hopi art form, but Marie decided to take a craft she was familiar with and incorporate Hopi symbols such as her clan symbol, the snake, creating her own style of artwork. Marie says, “Creating art comes from the heart and I enjoy expressing my tribe symbols in another art form.”
Darrin KuwanhongvaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Darrin was raised on Second Mesa in the village of Shungopavi, AZ. When he was younger, he would draw and carve katsina dolls but he didn’t start working with metal until 2016. His father and his grandfather were silversmiths, but it was Gerald Lomaventema who taught him the art of making overly jewelry from sterling silver. Darrin has learned different techniques of working with silver, including tufa casting, overlay with stone inlay, and silver coin ingot.
Jerolyn HonwytewaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Jerolyn is from the Corn Clan and was raised in the Village of Mishunghovi on Second Mesa. She began learning the art of silversmithing from her father, Gerald Lomaventema, about three years ago. She grew up watching her father create all types of beautiful jewelry. She says he sparked her interest in learning the craft and she has reached a point where she can create her own designs and jewelry. She draws inspiration for her designs from nature, family, traditional dances, and life experiences.
Duane MaktimaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Duane has had an extensive and fulfilling career in his chosen passion as a Native American Metalsmith Jeweler. Duane’s work gains major influence and inspiration through his Native American heritage of Hopi and Laguna Pueblo. Drawing from a rich heritage of Pueblo Culture, Duane further educated himself about the heritage of ancestral jewelry techniques and design and their significance. The results are very much reflected as spiritual endeavors as in the past that “nothing is taken for granted.”
Merle NamokiJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Merle grew up in a village called Songoopavii (Shungopavi) on Second Mesa, AZ. He has been working with silver for more than 28 years creating traditional Hopi overlay jewelry by hand. He learned the art of silversmithing by attending classes at the Hopi Co-op Guild on Second Mesa. The Co-op was begun by Hopi veterans of World War II to provide Hopi people with a way to learn a craft and become self-employed. Merle’s designs are inspired by Mother Nature, Hopi clothing regalia, and Hopi pots.
Clinessia LucasJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Clinessia was born and raised on the Hopi reservation. She says she has been an artist ever since she was born, the artistic genes run through her blood, from both sides of her family. The art of silversmithing was taught to her much later in life by her teacher Gerald Lomaventema. She credits Gerald with being the one to teach her how to cut, mat, shape, overlay, set natural stones, and cast with both copper and silver. Clinessia encourages other young artists out there to keep striving to do what they love because art can be created in many different ways. She says, “Life is full of colors, meanings, and expression; it’s up to the mind and body to fulfill its destiny."
Cordell SakevaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Cordell was raised on Second Mesa, AZ, where he grew up watching other family members creating different types of arts and crafts. This inspired him to experiment with different mediums and materials from an early age. He didn’t begin to work with metal until 2016 when he began taking classes from Hopi overly jeweler Gerald Lomaventema. He credits his step-dad, Alfred Dawahoya, and Gerald as being his main teachers. Cordell creates his own designs and transforms them into beautiful sterling silver overly rings, pendants, and bracelets. He says he draws his inspiration from imagining what the world looked like in the past and combines it with today’s modern styles. When thinking about new designs he prays and tries to keep an open heart to allow the inspiration to flow.
Weaver SelinaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Weaver is an overlay silversmith with over 40 years of experience. He was born of the Sunforhead Clan and is from the village of Shungopavi, on Second Mesa. He acquired the basic knowledge and skills through study with the local Master Craftsmen Instructors Bernard Dawahoya, Eldon James, and Manuel Poseyesva and the men who taught at “The Hopi Crafts Shop” in Kykotsmovi, Arizona. Weaver has been affiliated with the Hopi Co-operative Guild in Second Mesa for more than 26 years. Throughout these years, he has developed his own unique style and designs of Hopi silver overlay jewelry. As an artisan of many years, Weaver has created his own methods and techniques which he incorporates into his work. He designs all types of silver overlay jewelry, from pendants to concho belts.
Gregory NaseyowmaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Greg is from the village of Lower Moencopi on the Hopi reservation. He has been crafting Hopi overlay jewelry for more than 25 years. Greg is mainly a self-taught artist but learned some of his craft from the late Hopi silversmith Sidney Sekakuku. He draws inspiration for his art from his grandfather’s stories and also from symbols painted on pottery.
Yvette TalaswaimaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Yvette is from the village of Minshongnovi on Second Mesa. Yvette first began silversmithing by helping her husband. She later learned to make handmade silver chains and has recently learned the complete process of making overlay jewelry. Yvette says she gets inspiration for her jewelry designs from Hopi culture, for which they have their own ceremonial calendar.
Delwyn TawvayaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Delwyn is from the village of Shungopavi on Second Mesa. He was interested in silversmithing since he was a child. As an adult, Delwyn discovered that his great uncle, Paul Saufkie, and Fred Kabotie were the inventors of Hopi Overlay style. He strives to create jewelry that revives and preserves his culture and traditional overlay techniques.
Darren SeweyestewaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Darren is a Hopi Silversmith from the village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa. He is a member of the Coyote and Badger Clan. Darren has been making jewelry since the ‘90s. He enjoys making jewelry because it allows him to be flexible with his time and spend more of it with his family. Darren was self-taught and usually uses traditional symbols such as water, clouds, feathers, and animal designs in his sterling silver jewelry. He enjoys making jewelry because it always makes him happy when he sees a satisfied customer.
Duane TawahongvaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
A member of the Coyote Clan, Duane lives in Mishongnovi Village. He is a self-taught silversmith, working in traditional Hopi overlay. Duane’s work incorporates various traditional designs and semi-precious stones. Duane draws his inspiration from the beauty of Hopi Lands and from Hopi spiritual beliefs. Like all Pueblo peoples, his prayers always include prayers for the world and for other peoples before his prayers for the Hopi People and himself. His sincere hope is that his jewelry brings blessings and serenity to all who wear it.
Mark TalayumptewaJeweler, Diné (Navajo)
Mark is a silversmith of the Tobacco Clan from the village of Kykotsmovi on Third Mesa. He began as a carver, but became interested in silverwork and soon became a student of Gerald Lomaventema. He became more inspired by his Grandfather Orville Talayumptewa’s work who was an earlier silversmith. His family and culture are his biggest inspiration. He begins each piece thinking of a design, how he can apply it on silver, then cutting and carving out tufa stones and finally forming and finishing each piece by hand.
Lyndon AhiyiteJeweler, Zuni
Lyndon is from Zuni and has been creating jewelry for more than 19 years. He starting by creating simple stone jewelry, mastered his skills, and became more detailed in his work. Lyndon is moved by the art of jewelry making and is inspired by his culture and others in his community. He also finds inspiration from his daughters and he brings their creativity to life in his jewelry. Lyndon is honored to be a part of the jewelry-making tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation in his community and will continue to pass on this tradition to others.
Phyllis CoonsisJeweler, Zuni
Phyllis is a Zuni tribe member of the Sun Clan. She has lived her whole life in Zuni Pueblo and is a third-generation artist, having learned skills from various family members including her older siblings. Phyllis’s grandmother inspired her to continue her artwork and showed her that she was able to support herself and her family. Over the years, Phyllis has developed her silversmithing skills and has learned how to make squash blossoms, necklaces, and Concho belts. Each piece she tries to apply contemporary style while still maintaining traditional Zuni designs.
Ola EriachoJeweler, Zuni
Ola has been creating beautiful jewelry for over 35 years – first on her own as an individual jeweler, and then together as a couple with her husband, Tony. Ola lives at Zuni Pueblo, which borders western New Mexico. In addition to being a fine jeweler, she is also a strong advocate of Native-made art. Ola continues to create her signature designs in exceptional jewelry.
Duran GasperJeweler, Zuni
Duran Gasper is a silversmith from Zuni Pueblo, was born in 1970, and is the son of Rose Gasper and brother to Arnie Gasper. Duran learned cluster work from his mother, Rose, and inlaying from his brother, Arnie. Like his brother, Duran worked for the jewelry designer Ray Tracey as an inlayer.
Jesse JohnsonJeweler, Zuni
Jesse belongs to the Eagle Clan and is a child of the Crow Clan, who was born and raised at Zuni Pueblo. He creates Zuni cluster Petit Point, using sterling silver and various natural stones. Jesse says, "making jewelry requires a combination of patience, skill, and imagination to create unique Petit Point jewelry.”
Otto LucioJeweler, Zuni
Otto began experimenting with sterling silver in 1987 and has been making jewelry since 2006 as a full-time occupation. He was self-taught and learned how to do lapidary work and solder silver through trial and error. Otto creates unique designs and shapes that are inspired by his Zuni culture.
Loren Panteah and Yolanda LaateJeweler, Zuni
Loren and Yolanda were born and raised in Zuni Pueblo, in western New Mexico. They have been creating a style of jewelry called Channel Inlay for more than 34 years and they pride themselves on creating unique designs. Their jewelry is composed of sterling silver inlaid with natural stones. The silver is purchased and fabricated using hand tools and is then inlaid with stones and shells that are hand-ground on a lapidary wheel. The Panteah’s consider themselves lucky to be able to do their work from home.
Charlotte Tsalate (Seoutewa)Jeweler, Zuni
Charlotte is from the Pueblo of Zuni. She has been making jewelry since she was 14. Her desire is to continue the art of traditional jewelry and encourage future generations of Zuni artists. Charlotte’s jewelry specialties include Petit Point and Zuni Channel Inlay. Charlotte learned the basics of jewelry making from her uncle and aunt, and her mother taught her the art of making Petit Point jewelry. Charlotte says her inspiration comes from those who taught her as well as our creators who are watching over us.
Eldrick SeoutewaJeweler, Zuni
Eldrick is from the Pueblo of Zuni. He has been creating his art for more than 40 years since he was 12. Eldrick was taught the basics of traditional Zuni jewelry making by his mother, Amy Seoutewa, and his dedication to that art form stems from his desire to keep his mother’s work alive. Eldrick began with the more traditional forms of jewelry and over the years transitioned into more contemporary inlay jewelry. His says his inspiration for his work “comes from our creator who makes us who we are as Zuni people."
Roxanne SeoutewaJeweler, Zuni
Roxanne learned how to make petit point jewelry from observing her mother work. Roxanne slices then cuts stones into individual small pieces, hand grinds, and sands each stone. The stones are then set into hand-cut and soldered silver bezels to create intricate pieces of petit point jewelry.
April UnkestineJeweler, Zuni
April was raised by her grandparents at Zuni Pueblo. She has been working on crafting jewelry since she was 15 while she was still in high school. April needed to help support the family because her grandmother no longer could since she was going blind from diabetes. April learned traditional inlay designs from her Aunt Victoria.