When you see Wes Willie’s name, you expect something exceptional, and this bolo delivers on all counts.
His exquisite and precise pieces have won him many awards, and he deserves the title “Master Jeweler”. He is known for using the finest materials from around the world.
Perfection and beauty are important parts of Wes Willie jewelry, but rare materials, often in dwindling supply, are another.
This bolo is remarkable for the heft of the silver, the original design, and the sublime, natural red coral.
Looking at this refined, elegant bolo, it is surprising to learn the artist came to jewelry-making after a career as a welder. His flawless technique was probably developed in that somewhat related occupation; his artistic vision was always there.
This bolo is perfection itself: the silver is unusually thick, solid, and beautifully shaped. It is absolutely clean in every detail of chiseling, hammering, and inlay.
The design is meant to spotlight the gorgeous, natural red coral, but goes beyond that: The bolo, cord, and tips comprise a totally integrated, magnificent whole.
Thick slabs of the finest, natural red coral are hand-cut and inlaid in a geometric mosaic pattern of varied shapes and straight lines. Here and there, a slim channel of 14-karat gold provides a shining accent, warmly complementing the smoothly polished coral.
The inlay follows the slight curve of the background silver, so all the materials catch the light.
Note the subtle, natural variations in hue of the coral pieces which gives this bolo a subliminally richer effect than if they were all exactly matching.
The pattern may be simply abstract, but it also resembles the stonework of the ancient Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde, and elsewhere.
The silver base of the bolo is exceptional, also. An unusually heavy gauge, it is 1/4-inch thick. This lends the bolo an immediate allure of luxury and solidity.
In the middle of the tapered shield shape, the silver has been chiseled on either side of the inlaid coral.
Two silver rectangles are heavily textured, on top and even on the side, while a slender piece between them is left plain, and polished to the same high sheen as the rest of the bolo.
The body of silver has been curved, so its impeccably polished surface gleams in reflected light.
Most artists would stop here – after all, there is plenty to admire and delight in – but Wes has added a marvelous touch: a gracefully curved feather curls asymmetrically across a corner of the bolo, at the bottom.
Elegant, but just as solid and sturdy as the rest of the silver, this feather is notched and has a hand-textured area at the tip.
It is meant to be an eagle feather, blessing the cliff-side, ancestral ruins suggested by the coral inlay.
In design terms, this curving shape beautifully softens the generally linear composition, brings down a bit of the textured accents, and makes us see all the elements of the design with more clarity and appreciation.
In another example of artistry, the tips are simple, sharply tapered cones. The length is proportionate to the size of the bolo, and the tips gleam with the same lovely polish as the rest of the silver, but leave attention on the bolo.
After all these words, this bolo actually speaks for itself!
Quality really is recognizable, and this bolo wears its magnificence lightly, but clearly.
At work, the country club, formal evenings, or ballgames, this bolo will fit right in – obviously worn by someone who knows excellence.