Kewa-Santo Domingo Pueblo has long been known as the center of fine heishi, and the Rosetta family, as leading heishi makers.
Heishi – strands of stone, shell, and now, metal, tubes – are among the earliest forms of Southwestern Indian jewelry, perfected primarily by the Pueblos along the Rio Grande river.
No longer the clunky chunks of stones and shells of yore, contemporary heishi, like this elegant three-strand necklace, is refined and smooth.
Making heishi is both labor-intensive and material-intensive.
There is a pile of debris for every non-metal bead, since the material must be sliced, cut into tiny squares that are drilled individually, and then strung and ground down into the minuscule tubes you see here.
The end result can be worn with everything, day and night, by men as well as women.
Heishi, such as this necklace, can even support a pendant, and can also stack with other beads and necklaces.
Here, we have three strands of darkly lustrous, natural Australian jade, in a seductive, earthy green, containing tiny areas of dark matrix.
Sleek, slinky, sensuous jade is animated by glittering silver cylinders that are larger than the teeny, tiny stone tubes.
The difference in texture, between the sparkling silver and the muted shine of the jade, is another important design feature.
Wearable for casual, as well as more “proper” occasions, heishi is wonderfully versatile and, therefore, amortizes beautifully.