Modern Coral and Turquoise Cuff
“Vernon Begaye is a Navajo jeweler whose individual vision sets him apart from tradition while retaining the cultural origins that inspired his talent”, to quote an expert’s opinion.
He creates distinctive, contemporary jewelry designs, using materials and symbols associated with tradition, and the result has been innumerable awards.
This exceptional bracelet hints at traditional Native jewelry; the hand-fabricated technique and use of silver, turquoise, and coral, are a direct line to the past.
However, the silver is brushed, and the design of the stones and elements results in an arrestingly different take on the traditional.
A radiant blue, natural Candelaria turquoise sits front and center, as is traditional, but overlaps the width of the cuff at top and bottom.
Set in a shadowbox, with a large scale toothed bezel, its rounded border follows the organic shape.
Harking back to the past, the stone is hand polished, rather than machine polished.
This leaves it with a softly gleaming, honed finish, that blends beautifully with the brushed silver.
A stamped flat bead flanks the turquoise, also in the gentle, brushed finish of all the raised silver elements.
Two natural, dark red, pieces of branch coral are placed next, on either side.
Left with their natural, irregular surfaces, the coral cabochons are slightly tapered in form and held in a sturdy bezel, similar to the turquoise.
Two more, stamped silver beads follow the coral, with a small, fluted bead at each end of the cuff.
Like the heads of a comet, these little beads are attached to a double line of silver, trailing to the ends of the cuff.
An important detail is that all these elements, and the edges of the cuff themselves, are raised above the textured and darkened background silver.
The elements stand out from the flat, dark silver background, boldly.
Since all the finishes are muted, as is the contrast among them, the bracelet is meant to be noticed, yet is somehow understated.
Premium stones, flawless workmanship, and a robust, modern sensibility, tied to a reverence for tradition; Vernon’s award-winning work is always memorably distinctive.