First, he was an architectural student, then a missionary, fluent in Laotian and Thai languages.
Then, inspired by great jewelers like Ray Tracy, Gibson Nez, and Norbert Peshlakai, he began to make award-winning jewelry.
He developed a unique style that referenced the ancient petroglyphs found on the canyon walls around his home, near Ganado, on the Navajo reservation.
That results in wonderful surface images created through complex overlay, cutouts, stamping, and appliqué – all done by hand, of course.
Kee is also noted for his use of fine, natural stones, as brilliantly seen in this ring.
The extraordinary feature of this ring is that superb, natural Bisbee turquoise.
It is large, domed, and exhibits the intense blue, and almost-maroon matrix, of the highest quality Bisbee stones.
Bisbee is one of the top, most coveted, and now rare, turquoise of the American Southwest.
The mine, in southern Arizona, is now played out, although some atypical stones, from the peripheral areas, are still touted as “Bisbee”.
This stone is superlative, and so is the silver work that surrounds it.
A solid palisade of chiseled silver supports the magnificent turquoise, which is set on the textured silver that is typical of this artist’s work.
The close, parallel lines resemble ancient symbols for rainfall.
That watery theme, which means very good luck, is carried out by the appliqued turtles on the shank.
Notice that each turtle’s shell is decorated in the center with its own design!
Between the turtles, are appliqueed crosses, representing the four geographic directions. A tiny cross is also incised above each of the turtles.
These crosses mean that the blessings of water should extend to all four corners of the world.
All the elements of the silver work are impeccably executed.
This style of applique, against a closely chiseled background, is one of the things that make his work distinctive.
In this ring, however, the silver work definitely plays a supporting role to the glorious, gorgeous, remarkable turquoise.
This is a collector’s piece; without a doubt destined to be a treasured heirloom, but also destined to be happily enjoyed, now.