Friday, September 18, 2020

The most common questions we get, and some answers.

 We at TMT get a lot of questions about the things we buy and sell, which is great.  We are always happy to answer any question that might come our way about Native American art and jewelry, because it is what we love.  An educated and knowledgeable public is our best audience, and ignorance is the enemy of enjoyment when it comes to our inventory.  So, go ahead and ask away, and if we don't know the answer we have a lot of resources to use in a search for the truth.  But there are some questions that come up over and over again, and it might be a good idea to put some answers in writing.  Here we go:

HOW'S BUSINESS?

In our covid-influenced world, this is not an unreasonable question.  The facts are that the present world situation has affected our business, just like it has pretty much every business.  The lack of shows has been difficult for everyone, and we all eagerly await a time when we can all be together safely.  But there has not been a noticeable drop in the demand for quality material at proper prices.  So, basically, the answer is, "not bad."

WHEN IS YOUR NEXT SHOW?

We will probably be doing a trunk show at Faust Gallery in Santa Fe in December.  After that, we will have to wait and see about the High Noon show in Mesa, Arizona in January.  Keep checking our Shows section for the latest information.

ON TO THE MATERIAL--WHAT IS HOT RIGHT NOW?

The same thing that is always hot--quality.  Pieces with established provenance are in extremely high demand, and "no excuses" pieces will always command a premium.  Jewelry that features stones from the top mines, especially Lone Mountain and Bisbee, is also on the list.  Honestly, what is "hot" does not often change.  Occasionally, there is a bump on one particular area due to a new publication or museum show, but as a general rule, quality rules.

HOW DO YOU TELL IF TURQUOISE HAS BEEN STABILIZED?

This is a really tough one, because some treatments are very sophisticated and will even pass the "hot pin" test.  Here is a site with different types of turquoise treatments (we do not know these people and do not endorse any of their products, but this page is a good synopsis): https://toqos.com/blogs/turquoise-blog/turquoise-treatment-methods

Note that they said that poorly treated turquoise has a white, waxy look, but well-treated turquoise does not.  One thing you can do is purchase pieces that were made before the 1950s, when stabilization became more widespread.  Anything from the 1970s is immediately suspect, though of course, there are notable exceptions.  Keep in mind that only 10-12% of turquoise is hard and stable enough to be used without some kind of stabilization.  So, in short, the best thing to do is always consult an expert, and if you purchase turquoise, make sure that you get in writing exactly what kind of turquoise you are purchasing (natural, dyed, stabilized, etc.)

WHO IS THE NEXT LOLOMA?

Nobody, because the market is so much different now than it was when Loloma arrived on the scene.  He entered a market that regarded Indian jewelry as a curio, and was one of the main figures who transformed it into a true art market.  His influence can never be replicated in that regard.  In terms of pure artistry, there are many current jewelers who can match his skill (truth be told, he was not the most skilled silversmith or goldsmith of his time), but nobody before or since can match his creativity and originality.

In terms of who will eventually be as collectible as Loloma, you can ask ten different dealers and get ten different answers.  A good place to start is to ask who is as collectible as Loloma right now, whether or not they are still producing.  There, it depends on what price point you choose.  At the highest levels, the only artists still producing who would be in the mix are the Yazzie brothers and Jesse Monongye.  Then, at slightly lower price points, there are people like the Supplee brothers and Sonwai.  This is not an exhaustive list, but those are a few names to consider.     

HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE SIZE OF A BRACELET?

First, you need a flexible tape measure.  A steel one will do nicely, especially if it has a catch on one end.  Then, take the tape and measure the inside of the bracelet from end to end.  This is sometimes easier said than done, especially if the back of the bracelet is not flat.  If you must, you can measure along the edge to get an accurate number.  Then, measure the opening.  For reference, a bracelet for a medium woman's wrist is usually 5 1/4" to 5 1/2" with an opening between 3/4" and 1".  One for a medium man's wrist is usually 5 1/2" to 5 3/4" with a 7/8" to 1 1/4" opening.  Any opening larger than 1 1/2" is usually a problem, because the opening will be too large to keep the bracelet on the wrist when it is spun around.

That's a start.  If you read this and have other questions you would like answered, please let us know.  We would love to hear from you!



Thursday, July 30, 2020

Two Honorary Indians in Southwest Jewelry

Turkey Mountain Traders specializes in the arts of the American Indian, as most of you already know. And when it comes to jewelry and silverwork, we try to limit ourselves to American Indian pieces of special historic and artistic merit. We do not normally carry things made by non-Native silversmiths, though there are some artists we like very much; it's just not our thing. However, we do break this rule for two people, and for two very specific reasons: their work is of surpassing quality, and they hold a large and important place in the development of Southwest Indian jewelry. Their names are Frank Patania Sr. and Eveli Sabatie.

Patania was a Sicilian jeweler, intensively trained in European styles and techniques. In 1927, while working in New York City, he contracted TB and was sent to the clean fresh air of Santa Fe to recuperate--and never left. The culture and history of the Southwest proved irresistible to him, and he opened up his own shop, the Thunderbird Shop, in Santa Fe.

Patania's work was a wonderful synthesis of Indian materials (silver and turquoise, mostly) and forms with a European emphasis on quality and good design.  His pieces are instantly recognizable by their balance and fine finishes.  Note the restrained use of stamping and applique in the above bracelet, a far cry from the heavily stamped Indian pieces of the time.  Stones were always carefully set, and of very high quality.

Patania did not limit himself to the typical forms of the southwest, as the necklace above shows.  And, most importantly, he was very generous with his time and skills with the Indian and Hispanic silversmiths who worked in the Thunderbird Shops (he opened a second one in Tucson in the 1950s.)  Hispanic artists such as Alberto Contreras and Carlos Diaz, Navajos such as Jimmie Herald Sr., and most importantly, Pueblo smiths such as Lewis Lomay and Julian Lovato all developed their own distinctive skills and styles under the tutelage of Patania.  It is no exaggeration to say that the emphasis on clean design and high quality in today's Indian silversmithing is as much due to the influence of Patania as anything else.
  
The concho belt above is by Joe H. Quintana, a Cochiti smith who worked in Santa Fe at the same time as Patania, though never in Patania's shop.  The buckle and conchos are both typically Patania, adopted by a smith who knew his work well and used it to great effect.

Patania died in 1964, but his pieces remain masterworks of Southwest style.  And his influence, through both his designs and his students, continues strongly to this day.

The second non-Indian is Eveli Sabatie, who also came to the Southwest through a combination of luck and happenstance.  Raised in Morocco and educated in Paris, Sabatie came to San Francisco in the late 1960s and met a Hopi man who told her she should visit the Mesas.  She did, and a chance meeting at a laundromat in 1968 introduced her to Charles Loloma, who would become her partner in both romance and art.  Loloma taught her the basics of making jewelry, and she introduced him to a more sculptural style of art.

Eveli's work has African undertones, a natural considering her background.  It also makes use of a great variety of materials not traditionally seen in Southwest jewelry.  Asymmetry and anthropomorphic features are also hallmarks of her work, and this influenced Loloma's work as well.  

Note the carved mermaid in the necklace above.

And the reverse of the same necklace.

Eveli and Loloma were together from 1968 until 1972, during which time Loloma's inlay designs underwent a drastic shift from his exposure to Eveli.  She continued to work in jewelry for the net 20 years, continuing to produce unique and wonderful things in a variety of forms.  Through her association with Loloma, her influence on inlay and jewelry design in the Southwest is huge, and her work is worthy of inclusion in any collection of Indian jewelry.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Talking beads--three terms everyone should know

With most American Indian necklaces, and indeed most necklaces worldwide, one of the important component parts is the humble bead. A bead is defined as a small-decorative object with a small hole for threading or stringing, and in most cases in the American Southwest these beads are made of stone, shell or silver. They can be fabricated from metal or cut from stone or shell, but in all cases, the object is the same: to create a decorative strand that can be used as a piece of jewelry, either with or without additional items such as charms, najas or pendants. A simple goal, really, and quite dependent on the quality of the individual beads used by the artist.

When discussing older beads, not everything is so cut and dried. Why is a strand of turquoise beads from 1960 worth a certain amount, while a strand from 30 year earlier is worth so much more? Part of it is the quality of the turquoise, of course, but not all. And why do serious collectors look down their noses on something called "bench beads"? Are they creations of pure evil, to be worth so much less than other silver beads? Finally, why do veterans spend so much time looking at the holes of beads, be they stone, shell or silver? What are they trying to see with their fancy magnifiers? Those are questions we will try to answer here, by discussing three secific terms--pump-drilled, bench beads and string wear.

First up, "pump-drilled". To understand this term, it is necessary to realize that the Pueblos (where most stone and shell beads were produced) did not have electricity until relatively recently. (For instance, Santo Domingo, one of the main bead producing Pueblos, was only electrified sometime after 1945--some artists there remember it being sometime around 1957.) Without electric power, the only way to drill holes in beads was to use a pump drill or bow drill, like the one pictured below.
The user manipulates the cross beam with their hand, creating an up and down motion that spins the sharpened point one way, then the other. In skilled hands, and with a sharpened metal bit, it is still agonizingly slow going. The hole created is cone-shaped, and the driller goes until they have broken through the far side of the bead, at which point they turn over the bead and drill from the new side. The resulting hole is in an hourglass form, and the hole has a notable sloping inside that can be seen through a magnifier. with all the hard work involved, it is no wonder that when electricity and dental drills became available pump-drilled beads disappeared.
An old Navajo ring with a pump-drilled turquoise bead. Note that the hole is off-round, as is typical with pump-drilled holes. This is Steve's wedding ring, so please forgive the dirt.

Next, "bench beads". In older historic times, a silversmith would normally do every bit of work involved in making a piece of jewelry. Occasionally, a teacher would give a nearly finished piece to a student for polishing, but that was generally the extent of it. So, when the piece in question was a squash blossom necklace, that meant that the silversmith would make all three parts--the beads, blossoms and naja. With the coming of a more Anglicized market, however, Henry Ford's idea of a division of labor took hold. From the 1940s on, many necklaces were made assembly-line style, where one shop smith would make the naja while another would make beads all day, every day. These beads were made with an eye towards quantity rather than quality, and were not carefully finished or graduated like those on many fine old necklaces. Here are the beads on a fine old necklace:
And here is an example of "bench beads", which are smaller, lighter and not nearly as carefully constructed--note the sharp edges on the seam in the middle of the beads.
As bench beads go, these are actually very nice ones, but they in no way compare to earlier silver beads. The best contemporary artists make their own beads, and bench beads are more of a lower-end mass market phenomenon today.

And finally, "string wear". In old beads, be they silver, stone or shell, there is a little bit of movement along the stringing material. And when a bead has been strung on the same string for a good long time, the string will leave signs of this wear. The best place to look for string wear is actually along the hanger of a silver naja, but it shows up as well on the holes of beads. The wear should not be all-over ever, but rather should be a sensible kind of uneven--the more time a string spends on one place, like the hanger of a naja, the more wear there should be.
A bead and naja hanger on an old silver necklace, both showing string wear.

In the antique Indian jewelry game, older is better. And things like pump-drilled beads, or beads with good string wear, are clues to advanced age. On the other hand, the presence of bench beads is indicative of a newer, less carefully made piece. Every bit of information tells a story, and when the story fits the piece, it is a piece that a serious collector will really enjoy.

If you have any questions about anything in this extremely technical blog post, please feel free to give us a call.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Navajo Inlay--the New Breed

In our last post, we discussed the origins of stone inlay in the Indian Southwest, with a special emphasis on the work done at Zuni Pueblo. Today, we will look at what has happened to the art of inlay since the 1960s, with special attention paid to the best inlay artists of the present day.

The 1960s and 1970s were, to put it bluntly, bad decades for the art of inlay. Not only did the 1960s see the death of many of the great inlay artists at Zuni (Poblano in 1959 and Weahkee in 1966 are two notable ones) but the increasing popularity of Indian jewelry led to the inevitable flood of foreign fakes on to the market. Even the genuine articles being produced at Zuni were generally unimaginative copies of earlier styles and forms. Two notable exceptions were the husband and wife teams of Nancy and Dennis Edaakie and Virgil and Shirley Benn, whose work was carefully and creatively done.
Dennis Edaakie
Virgil and Shirley Benn

The return to high quality work happened not at Zuni, but at Hopi with Loloma and In Joe Tanner's Gallup store with his stable of (mostly) Navajo artists. The work they all did was very unlike that done at Zuni, but the quality was generally of the highest quality.
An inside inlay belt buckle by Charles Loloma

Loloma's work was unlike anything ever seen before in Indian country, and his "cornrow", "height" and "inside inlay" inlay styles quickly became a part of many artists' repertoire. Having already discussed Loloma at length in other posts, we will not spend more time on him here, apart from acknowledging how hugely he influenced everyone in the Southwest.

Much of the truly high-quality inlay work done at the Tanner store was focused around the work of one man--Preston Monongye. Preston was not the best inlay artist, but his cast silver forms were a great frame for the work of other people, several of whom are counted among the greatest lapidarists of their time. Tanner would take silver blanks designed and cast by Preston and give them to people like Jimmie Harrison, Lee Yazzie and Jesse Monongye, who would work their lapidary magic.
Preston Monongye silver bracelet with inlay by Lee Yazzie
Preston Monongye silver bracelet with inlay by Jimmie Harrison
Preston Monongye cast silver bracelet, with the inlay done by himself. Monongye would often take longer pieces of stone and score them, to give the illusion of many smaller inlaid pieces.

Harrison, Yazzie and Jesse Monongye all went on to have great careers of their own, of course, and their work is an inspiration to several generations of inlay artists. Two of the most notable are Lee's younger brother Raymond Yazzie and Carl Clark, a Navajo artist who works with his wife Irene to create incredible micromosaic masterpieces.
A silver bracelet by Raymond Yazzie
A silver ring by Carl and Irene Clark

It is ironic that the finest and most talented inlay artists working today are Navajo, considering that historically, inlay was a Zuni art form. An explanation can be found in the fact that Indian jewelry today is a professional occupation, and Navajo jewelers are not the nomadic sheepherders of old--they have houses and a modern lifestyle, and a place to keep the large and heavy machinery needed to do high-quality lapidary work. The work of Loloma and the Tanner shop artists helped to break down the long-held preconceptions about what "Navajo" or "Hopi" jewelry should look like, and replaced them with the idea that each artists can and should have his or her own style. We live in the era of the individual artist, which for knowledgeable collectors is a great place to be. That is not to say that there are not great Zuni inlay artists--the work of Colin Coonsis leaps to mind--but inlay has gone from a Zuni province to an art form that can be owned by anyone, regardless of tribal affiliation.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Zuni Inlay--The Official Channels

Inlay by definition is the process of setting pieces of something into a pattern within a larger object. In Indian jewelry terms, it generally means setting small pieces of stone in a pattern within a piece of jewelry. The stones are first cut into small pieces which are then placed within a silver setting to create an unbroken pattern. In that sense, it differs from simply bezel-setting stones on a piece of jewelry (a process by which each stone is within a distinct silver area that is not touching the one next to it.) In a real sense, inlay is like pornography: tough to define but easy to recognize. (And that will be my last reference to pornography in this blog.)

Historically, inlay was the private reserve of the Zuni, who specialized in wonderful stonecutting and stone setting. This was made possible because fine inlay work requires large and heavy grinders and cutters, equipment that fit in with the Zuni's life at the Pueblo but was completely unsuited for the more nomadic Navajo. Carrying a grinding wheel from one seasonal hogan to another would not work for a Navajo artist, but a Zuni smith who stayed in his Pueblo home for the entire year could easily have one in a corner. With the advent of a more "modern" way of life throughout the Southwest, tribal differences in the use of inlay have become blurred or even completely erased, but we will focus on the past for now.

The original type of inlay at Zuni was mosaic inlay on shell. In Mosaic inlay, smaller pieces of (usually) stone are placed edge to edge with no material separating them. Note the small pieces of turquoise on the naja in the above necklace, which are placed directly next to each other on a pitch background. This kind of work dates back to prehistoric times, with many fine examples having been excavated from ruins such as Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. Turquoise on shell was the most common type of inlay, just like in this necklace, which dates to circa 1910. This is why shell from the Sea of Cortez was one of the most important prehistoric trade items among the peoples of the Southwest, and shell to this day is an important part of many jewelers' bag of tricks.
The coming of the reservation and trading post system brought easier access to silver, materials and tools to Zuni, and the art of mosaic inlay became a way for people to support themselves in a "modern" economy. Traders such as the Vanderwagens and C. G. Wallace worked to create a market for this new style of jewelry. The butterfly above dates to 1935-40, and is silver with turquoise, abalone, white shell and jet set in mosaic inlay. Note the pieces of stone and shell are directly touching each other (except for the jet eyes, which are bezel-set.) The overall butterfly design is done with five larger silver channels filled with mosaic inlay, and it is quite likely that the silverwork was done by a Navajo silversmith. Strangely, with very few exceptions, the Zuni were somewhat indifferent silversmiths, perfectly willing to do the inlay on pieces of cardboard which were then given to Navajo smiths to set into silver. Very few Zuni artists distinguished themselves for their work in silver, with most preferring to work entirely in stone and shell. Among the greats of mosaic inlay were Teddy Weahkee, John Gordon Leak (or John Leekity, his real name) and Leo Poblano, with Poblano (died 1959) probably the greatest mosaic inlay artist ever to work in the Southwest. None ever used a hallmark, but each had a distinctive style that sets them apart from their less-talented contemporaries.
The other kind of inlay used at Zuni was channel inlay, in which the stones are again set into silver channels, but the channels are much smaller and each one only holds a single stone which does not touch any other stone. The earliest channel inlay likely dates to the mid-1920s, and became extremely common in the 1940s. Often, the demanding silverwork was done by a Navajo smith, who would then hand it off to a Zuni lapidarist to set the stones; the most famous collaborators were Lambert Homer (Zuni) and Roger Skeet Sr. (Navajo). The first channel inlay was what the trade calls "pillow inlay", where the stones stick up very slightly above the top of the silver channels to create a textured look and feel--see the ring above for an example.
Over time, it became more common to grind down the stones so that they were flush with the top of the silver, creating a surface smooth to the touch. Note the very refined look of the ring above, with its smooth surface and evenly cut stones. The Zuni artists most proficient in channel inlay were Frank Dishta and Frank Vacit--Vacit used a fleur-de-lis hallmark on later pieces, which Dishta's signature style of small circular stones ground flush is instantly recognizeable.
Frank Dishta earrings, showing his style of channel inlay.
A way to judge the quality of channel inlay is to look at the amount of "fill" used to fit the stones into the channels. In the photo above, you can see the top left triangular stone, which has uneven edges and grey stuff surrounding it to make it match the shape of the silver channel. That grey material is "fill", and the less fill needed to make the stones fit, the better. If you go back to the green and black ring above, you can see that the silver edges are quite even, and very little fill was needed--a very fine job by a talented channel inlay artist.

For more information on the old-time Zuni artists who made this wonderful work, a great place to start is BLUE GEM WHITE METAL by Deb Slaney. We have a few copies for sale for $20 plus shipping, and it is a small but powerful book that we recommend everyone have in their library. The pieces illustrated here are all shown on our website, and are all available for purchase.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Loloma things and Loloma rings

No other American Indian artist has ever reached the heights of popularity achieved by Charles Loloma (1921-1991), the Hopi jeweler, potter and painter whose work, especially his jewelry, has become synonymous with creativity and quality. He took American Indian jewelry to places it had never been, with his designs, his materials and, honestly, his marketing. He was the first public superstar of Indian art, and time has hardly dimmed his reknown; his pieces are just as collectible today as they were when he was alive.

One of the wonderful things about his work is that there is no "typical" Loloma piece. There are designs he made multiple times, such as his "height" and "kachina" bracelets, but there are many other pieces that do not follow those designs at all. A "typical" Loloma piece is a piece done with top-quality materials, expert technique and very pleasing design, no matter the form. And we now have three rings that show some of the stages of his development as an artist, each markedly different from the others but all identifiable as his work by the quality and creativity involved. (Anything said to be "in the book" comes from Marti Struever's comprehensive and highly recommended 2005 book LOLOMA.)

The first ring is the earliest of the three, made during a somewhat experimental time when Loloma was becoming comfortable with the use of lost-wax casting in gold, right around 1968-70. He did this "branch" design with both cultured and freshwater pearls, in both silver and gold, though this is the most elaborate gold example of this type we have seen.
Though he did not continue to produce this type of ring in any quantity, the lessons he learned from doing such an elaborate lost-wax casting stayed with him for the rest of his career. In fact, a ring made in 1985 (book, page 169) is not at all dissimilar, though the gold casting is simpler.
By the mid-1970s, Loloma had clearly made a conscious decision to only use the best materials available. Not to say that his early pieces were trash, but around this time the quality of his turquoise goes up markedly. Here is a marvelous example of that, a tufa-cast silver ring with a gold bezel and a wonderful piece of high-quality Bisbee turquoise. It is likely to have been made between 1975 and 1980, probably more towards the earlier date.
One fascinating thing about this ring is the reinforced silver area at the back of the shank. Loloma was very well known for creating specific pieces for specific people, which means that they sometimes would only fit the person for whom they were made. In this case, he actually put an extra piece of silver on the tufa-cast shank, so that the ring could be sized at a future time without destroying the texture of the band. Later pieces with more inlay were tougher to size, as we shall see....
And HERE is an unsizeable one, done in 18k gold with fantastic inlay that goes a large part of the way around the shank. This ring is one of the last things Loloma made, and was done in collaboration with his nieces Sherian and Verma. It was purchased from him at Third Mesa in 1986, just before the September 1986 accident that left him unable to create at his previous levels.
Note the height inlay in this ring, more commonly seen on his bracelets. In this little masterpiece, he and his nieces worked to make a miniature version of one of his gold bracelets, with the stones reaching different levels. It is very well engineered, and fits beautifully if your finger is that size (7, to be exact.)

From the experimental to the unmistakable, these three rings together tell a good part of the Loloma story. To see complete information on each ring, go to the RINGS section of the website or call us for more details.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Four worlds in one--Jesse Monongye in four chapters

For those of you who have read previous blog posts, you will remember that one of the "uniques" I discussed was Jesse Monongye, whose work is as distinctive as it is skillful. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, I recommend the book JESSE MONONGYA: OPAL BEARS AND LAPIS SKIES--the photos are fantastic eye candy, and it explores some interesting parts of his career, including his less than perfect relationship with his father, Preston Monongye. But having the book is not a prerequisite for admiring his jewelry, which incorporates some of the finest inlay work done anywhere into some very interesting forms.

Many great artists have relatively short careers, and Indian silversmiths are no exception. Jesse is definitely an exception to this rule, with his work spanning the years from the 1970s right up to the present day. With such a long career it is only natural that there were different periods to his work, and different styles he adopted during those times. Right now, we are privileged to have four different Jesse pieces, each from a different and distinct period of his career. So, come with us as we visit the career of Jesse Monongye, as told by four pieces in TMT's inventory.

Before we begin, there is one unanswerable question about Jesse--is it spelled Monongye or Monongya? The book spells it Monongya, but Jesse's own website spells it Monongye. Even his own hallmarks are different. We will use the Monongye spelling, because that seems to be what he is using these days. Anyhow, on we go to the jewelry, which is why we are all here.

The first piece is a cast silver belt buckle, which actually has the date 10-22-76 scratched on the back. A very interesting date, since according to the book the first piece Jesse made by himself was in 1977. However, these are some other pieces in the book that are dated 1976, so perhaps this is just sloppy editing.
The hallmark on this buckle is four triangles facing each other, which according to Jesse signifies the "four friends"--his brother-in-law at the time and two other friends with whom they were going to start a jewelry manufacturing business. He signed a few pieces from this time with the "four friends" mark, including this buckle. All the jewelry from this time has raised inlay, using smaller pieces of stone (because Jesse could not afford to purchase the larger pieces of turquoise more in vogue at the time.) Note the little piece of coral on the tip of the prong which presages the little creative touches that would come to mark his future work.

Next, a hollowwork silver bracelet with a wonderful piece of Morenci turquoise. Clearly, Jesse was doing better in his jewelry business and could afford better turquoise. But his style was not completely developed--this bracelet is extremely well-made, but it is not instantly recognizable as his work because it is not inlaid. However, this is the most "Navajo" piece we have ever seen from Jesse, who is, after all, Navajo.
The signature is engraved, rather than the stamped and/or applied hallmark he would come to use later, but the design of the signature is the same JMONONGYE as on later pieces. A rare, early non-inlay piece, probably from 1977-1980.
Aha! Here is the inlay we expect. Some people, including us, call this his "night sky" inlay, for obvious reasons. Absolutely classic work from Jesse, using a number of different types of stones, both traditional (turquoise) and modern (pin shell) These silver earrings probably date to the early 1990s, and have the same JMONONGYE signature as the bracelet, only now it is stamped rather than engraved.
And now, we see Jesse go over the top and let his creative juices really flow. This ring has everything--gold, sugilite, turquoise, coral, shell, and even--wait for it--diamonds!
Clearly the work of someone who knows who is confident in his abilities and knows that he can afford to incorporate the best materials into his work without worrying that it will go unrecognized (and unsold).
There is even a star design on the top of the ring, with three diamonds of various sizes accenting the work. A statement piece, like most of Jesse's work from 1995 on.

In these four pieces, we see most of the major techniques and styles Monongye has used during his career--casting, intricate inlay work, and fabrication in both gold and silver. Truly, a good synopsis of the career of a singular artist.

All four of these pieces are currently for sale on the TMT website. Just go to the Buckles, Rings, Earrings and Bracelets sections for complete details.