American Indian Jewelry
Zuni Inlay Necklace
Artist: JewelryDescription: Roland Eustace (Zuni) | Silver, turquoise, coral, jet and mother of pearl | 22” Length
Owned and operated by the 19 pueblo tribes of New Mexico, Shumakolowa Native Arts shared the following on its website: “The Sunface is an ancient symbol in Zuni culture, where it represents the sacred Sun Father. The Zuni have always honored the Sun’s vital role in the cycling of seasons and the success of crops, recognizing that the Sun’s warmth sustains life, enables growth, and brings joy and prosperity to the people. The symbol’s round motif depicts the Sun with a forehead split down the middle to reflect the eternal balance between sunrise and sunset. Rectangular eyes and a round mouth complete the face, and the whole is encircled by feathers that radiate outward like sunlight.
For centuries the Sunface design has appeared on a variety of surfaces and objects, but in its most cherished traditional form it’s composed of precious stones that are as meaningful as they are beautiful. Turquoise represents oneness between the physical and spiritual realms; coral offers protection and comfort. Made of mother of pearl, the sun’s main face embodies intuition and imagination and the black jet of fossilized wood completes the face’s features. Together these four materials and their vividly contrasting colors balance each other within a unified circle."
The beautiful vintage Sunface necklace shown here was exquisitely handcrafted by Roland Eustace of the Pueblo of Zuni who began his work during the late 1950s, early 1960s.
Artist: JewelryDescription: Eveli Sabatie (b. 1940) | Silver/Turquoise
Eveli Sabatie’s circuitous route to Tucson is an interesting one. After having been born in Algeria, raised in Morocco, educated in Paris at the Sorbonne, she found herself on Haight Street in San Francisco during the early 1970s. There she met three Hopi men who invited her to a ceremonial dance on the Third Mesa in Hotevilla, Arizona. Unfortunately, Eveli confused the dates and arrived early. By happenstance while tending to her laundry, she met famed jeweler Charles Loloma.
“Charles was very, very interested in people, and even more curious when the person was a lady,” Sabatie shared. “I got intrigued when he asked me, ‘What have you done in your life so far?’” She then told him she’d been drawing and sewing tapestries when he inquired, “Would you like to learn how to make jewelry?”
And there, on the Hopi reservation, Sabatie honed her skills alongside one of the finest innovators of his time. The similarities between her North African cultural roots and that of the Hopi, the surrounding mountains and landscapes, and the ceremonial drumbeats resonated within and she found her own voice and applied it to her work. After a four year apprenticeship and determined to spread her independent wings, she set up a studio for herself in Santa Fe and began showing her work at local galleries and in numerous others across the country.
In 1979, Sabatie moved to Tucson where she has lived ever since producing hundreds of works until arthritic and vision issues forced retirement from her craft in 1998. Currently, she remains a practicing yoga student and instructor.
Carico Lake Turquoise (5 Strand) w/ Silver Cone Clasp
Artist: JewelryDescription: Terry & Joe Reano | Necklace (1996) | 15 x 1.3
Terry and Joe Reano are among the premiere bead makers of Santo Domingo. Having both grown up there, Terry learned to make these beads as a child, and Joe has served on the Pueblo council. Their joint fame is certainly because every single bead of theirs is always made entirely by hand, the traditional way.
The husband-and-wife team of Joe B. and Terry Reano are among the few Pueblo artists who still make beads completely by hand, without using power tools. Both learned these techniques from their parents and have passed the tradition on to their children.
Silver & Turquoise Jewelry, Navajo Rugs, Wood Bowl
Gail Bird (b. 1949) & Yazzie Johnson (b. 1946)
Left: 18K Gold, Rainbow Moonstone & Watermelon Tourmaline
Right: 18K Gold, Tanzania Sunstone
The internationally acclaimed and award winning American Indian dynamic design duo, Gail Bird (Laguna/Santo Domingo) and Yazzie Johnson (Navajo), who met during their youth, have been executing their innovative and unique talents for well over thirty years at the highest level of artistry and expert craftsmanship. Their work highlights a balanced measure of cultural components, both past and present, as well as enduring modernity. By featuring distinctive varieties of some of the finest gemstones, their style is naturally refined and inimitable.
Gail and Yazzie both studied at the University of California Berkeley as well as the University of Colorado at Boulder and regularly pursue other educational, cultural, historical, vocational and personal interests. Numerous publications, exhibitions and institutions worldwide have featured the storied pair.
Artist: JewelryDescription: Denise Wallace (b. 1957) | Fossilized Ivory/Sterling Silver (1988) | 1 ½”h x 1”w
“Technically astounding, aesthetically beautiful and culturally important. These are just some of the ways in which Denise Wallace’s jewelry can be described. Inspired by the stories of her Chugach Aleut ancestors, her unique creations have made her one of the best-known Alaska Native jewelers of our time. (Featured on the left in this image are a pair of Denise’s scrimshawed, fossilized ivory and sterling silver earrings, circa 1988.)
Wallace began her artistic journey as a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the late seventies. After graduating, she and her husband Samuel remained in Santa Fe creating and selling work from their studio and gallery for twenty years. In 1999, they moved to the tropics of Hawaii where their collaborations continued until Samuel’s passing in 2010.”
Navajo Belt Buckles
Billy Betoney | Silver/Leather | 2”h x 6”w (lower left)
Unidentifed Silversmith | Silver/Leather | 2”h x 5 ¼”w (upper right)
The lower left belt buckle is a Billy Betoney original masterwork. Billy learned silversmithing during the 1970s from his wife Betty. Perhaps it was the art education he received in his youth that rendered him a natural in this new medium or perhaps it was his instructor. Either way, Billy and Betty are a perfect fit as are their talents.
With experience under his belt, Billy’s designs became more visionary. By utilizing some of the design elements of his mother’s rugs, he would custom cut and form silver strips into the desired shapes he needed. After five unsuccessful vendor entry attempts to Santa Fe Indian Market, a relative shared his booth with Billy in 1989. That very same year he won the prestigious award “Most Creative Design – Any Class.” Thereafter he continued to win various awards consecutively.
Unfortunately, the buckle on the upper right, though artisan hallmark stamped, is the work of an unidentified silversmith.