From heavy equipment operator to manipulator of fine tools in delicate designs seems a long road, but with some mentoring from the late, great Gibson Nez (no relation), he quickly found the way.
Now, Leonard Nez’s award-winning jewelry is featured in the Smithsonian Institution.
It is characterized by excellent chiseling and clearly defined overlay.
This handsome pendant displays his skill and design sense, and showcases a gorgeous, natural turquoise.
It was listed as coming from the Bisbee mine, but those stones are noted for brilliant blue color and maroon matrix; this turquoise is a beautiful rich green, with matrix that is more light brown.
Bisbee or not, this is a splendid turquoise of southwestern origin, that seems to pulsate with emerald depths.
It is set high above the body of the pendant, surrounded by three different borders: a plain one that supports it, one that is closely chiseled, and the last, outer one, a narrow band that is polished to a high shine.
The body of the piece is overlaid in a stylized, sterling silver “ketoh”, or bow guard, a design commonly used in Navajo jewelry.
Dark oxidation fills the negative spaces between the motifs, accenting the gleaming design.
Rain and storm symbols, flank the sides of the pendant, while the top and bottom display feather symbols.
Feathers symbolize prayers, sent up to the heavens. In this case, the hope is for rain; great good luck on arid high desert land.
The curvaceous forms of the design elements are striking and graceful – another characteristic of this artist’s work.
Heavy equipment has lost a worker; we have heartily welcomed a fine jewelry artist!