The work of several master jewelers is featured on this page.
Navajo jeweler Arland Ben was born in Bluff, Utah and is from the Edgewater Clan. The son of a medicine man, he first learned silversmithing from his brother-in-law, Vincent Platero. Arland studied art at Brigham Young University and took premed courses at University of Utah (where he was active in wrestling) before he became a jeweler. He has also appeared in such movies as “Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo,” and “Buffalo Girls.” The bracelet at top is set with great Royston turquoise. 1.5 inches wide. Made for a man's wrist. $1875. The bracelet in the middle at bottom is set with natural turquoise said to be from Egypt. A ladies' size but made of heavy gauge silver. it's an inch wide. $1400. (BOTH IN TUCSON)
The Patania Family - the only family of metal smiths to have their work included in the Smithsonian Museum (in the Renwick Gallery).
listen to their story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xgcWwiixpY
Frank Patania Sr came to this country with his widowed mother in 1908, fleeing the devastation of an earthquake in Messina, Sicily, where he had been apprenticed at age 6 to a goldsmith. While in New York he contracted TB and was sent to Santa Fe in 1924 to recover. By 1927 he was well enough to open his own silversmith shop in Santa Fe (and in Tucson in 1937) with his brother Carmelo “Pat” where he forged a new design aesthetic that reverberates to this day - a unique blend of Old World metalworking and the influence of the Southwest. Over the years many American Indian jewelers have apprenticed with the Patania family.
Frank Jr (b 1932) began working full-time as a silversmith in his father’s shop in 1956. Over time he made his mark creating very modern pieces, including liturgical work – some of it monumental in size. His son Sam, the third generation, is forging into yet new territory, inspired by the work of the previous two generations but reflecting his own artistic vision. Joining them is the newest Patania apprentice: 4th generation Marco.
Both bracelets by Frank Patania Jr. Each is 1.5 inches wide and made for a medium-small wrist (just over 5.5 with a 1 inch opening). $1100.
A phenomenal box by Frank Patania Sr set with nugget turquoise from the Godbers' Mine. 7 1/8 by 3 5/8 by 1 1/4 inches. $4800.
Frank Patania Jr - at right: A high-dome cut sugilite (1/2 inch high) set in gold with gold dots on a cast ring, size 9 1/2. $528. At left: An amethyst ring fashioned of 14K gold. A size 6 1/2, the shank is 5/8 inch wide. $3200 (TUCSON)
click on image for larger version
Navajo jewelry Leo Yazzie has been working in silver and gold, developing his signature style for decades. Leo was born in 1940 at Black Mesa, Arizona. He was working as a social worker in St Johns Arizona when a supervisor suggested that he go back to school and get a MSW (Masters in Social Work) at Northern Arizona University. While there he had to take an art glass and so he took a jewelry-making class from Joe Coronet along with Duane Maktima, Bob Lomadapki and Victor Beck. “My teacher said there was a contest and I should make a special piece to enter. I did and I won! I discovered that I was an artist.”
At age 76 he is still creating jewelry, but at a slower pace, with the quality of his work undiminished. Just over an inch across at the widest pont.5.25 inches with a 1.25 inch opening. Set with a piece of Blue Gem from a stash of stones from the mine that he purchased many years ago. $1600. (SANTA FE)
Work by the legendary Hopi artist Charles Loloma (1921-1991), who opened the door to amazing innovation in American Indian jewelry beginning in the early 1960s. A ceramicist by training (he and his wife, Otellie, earned a degree in ceramics from Bruce University's School for American Craftsmen in 1949) He and my father met in the mid 1950s and became lifetime friends and I spent the summer with Charles at his tiny studio outside the village of Hotvela when I was 15, but it is far more than personal friendship and regard that makes me say that Charles was one of the seminal jewelers of the second half of the 20th century.
Please note that there are counterfeits of Loloma's work out there. We provide written documentation on each piece, including the prior owner's signature.
This 18kt gold bracelet above is 1/2 inch wide and made for a medium wrist (5.5 inches with a 1 inch opening. Set with fossilized walrus and mastodon ivory, coral, lapis, turquoise and ironwood. (TUCSON)
The 14kt gold ring at left by Loloma is set with fossilized walrus ivory, coral and top grade sugilite. A size 6 1/2, the inlay goes completely around - 1/2 inch at the widest point, tapering to 1/8 at the back. $14,500. (TUCSON)
The ring at right is set with turquoise from a claim called Blue Lace and is silver with a 14kt gold bezel. This ring has spectacular provenance: the original bill of sale, signed by Loloma can be seen below. A size 7 (it can be sized) it is 1.25 inches long. $8500. (TUCSON)
A Loloma bracelet inlaid with coral, fossilized ivory, lapis lazuli turquoise and ironwood. 5.5 inches with a one inch opening. 1.5 inches across at the widest point. $34,000.
By the extremely talented Duane Maktima (Laguna-Hopi). The pendant is inlaid with turquoise, two shades of rosarita, boulder opal and chalcedony with gold dividers. 1.25 inches square. $1300. The bracelet is a medium to small ladies size and is just under 1 inch wide. Set with rosarita and turquoise with gold dividers. $2950. (TUCSON - but we have work by him in our Santa fe store as well)
A spectacular piece of natural turquoise from the Candelaria Mine in Nevada, set in 14kt gold by Robert Sorrell. The sandcast bracelet has been smoothed on the outer edges but left with the original texture on the inside, for contrast. Fits a medium wrist: 5.5 inches with a 1+ inch opening. 1 1/8 inch across at the widest point. The stone is just over 1.5 inches by 5/8 inches. $8500. (TUCSON)
CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE THE BRACELET FROM ADDITIONAL ANGLES