Santo Domingo/ Kewa Pueblo Jewelry For Summer!

It's Summer! School is out, and vacation or traveling is underway all over the globe. Wether you are jet setting through continents or just hanging by the lake or beachside with family, we find ourselves enjoying those long summer afternoons and gorgeous summer evenings. We have the perfect jewelry for all those occasions this Summer. 

Bright beautiful designs in Turquoise, Coral,  Colorful Shells, Black Jet, and more. It is a style of Native American jewelry that I get asked about literally every time I wear it. It is extremely versatile, travel friendly, and can make a subtle or impressive and bold statement. It can go from the art festival to dinner out and transition seamlessly into Summer nightlife. It is also the oldest style of Native American Jewelry and has a history steeped in ancient roots and tradition. A style that is extremely skill demanding and with incredible detail and patterns, no one does it better than the jewelry artisans of Santo Domingo Pueblo. 

Santo Domingo Pueblo Indians have honored the jewelry making tradition longer than any of their Pueblo relatives and continue to use traditional techniques passed down from their ancestors. Santo Domingo was the name given by the Spanish in 1600 when they arrived in the southwest to the Kewa Pueblo in what is now New Mexico. The Spanish also brought silversmithing to the southwest, and as Native Americans in the southwest adopted the skill, a rich history of classic sterling silver Native American jewelry began. However, the Kewa Pueblo kept its traditions in jewelry making, and to this day they combine their ancient history with contemporary designs, materials, and creativity to create stunning and often award winning pieces. 

Heishi (Hee-shee) and Mosaic Inlay are the two forms found in this style of jewelry. Centuries ago, the shells used by the Pueblo Indians to make beads were obtained in trade from the Gulf of California. They then used these shells along with turquoise mined form the area to make the ancient jewelry still made today. 

Heishi are small beads made from materials like shells or stone. The beads are usually disc or tube shaped. The word “heishi” means “shell bead” in Eastern Keresan, a language of the Santo Domingo Native Americans. Traditionally, heishi beads were created by using a cactus needle to drill a hole through a rough shell fragment or stone. The raw bead would then be sanded down with hundreds of other fragments on a foot-powered stone wheel. To create Mosaic Inlay pieces, artists use smaller heishi beads and create a unique mosaic over a large piece of shell or bone. Modern-day artists sometimes draw inspiration from archaeological patterns or the patterns that occur naturally in stones. Recently, Slab jewelry from Santo Domingo has become quite popular and is a new addition to their history of jewelry. This style uses large slabs of shell and stone for a bold feel and uses little metal, instead allowing the unique beauty of the stones and shell to stand out. 

Gorgeous large or small geometric patterns expertly inlaid or beautiful beads hand made and strung into smooth necklaces of stone and shell are always works of wearable art. At silver Eagle Gallery we have new and stunning pieces form Santo Domingo/ Kewa Pueblo that not only bring dramatic modernism and color but also whisper the energy of the ancients. Shop online or visit one of our locations!