Old-Style Heishi

Ray Lovato


Long (30″), single strand of natural Royston turquoise heishi with rope wrap. Graduated sizes, smaller to largest at bottom, but very smooth changes in size.


Gold isn’t the only precious material; amassing enough natural turquoise to cut up and drill is even more rare and valuable. This long strand of natural Royston turquoise is as precious, and rarer, than any noble metal. Ray Lovato is one of the only jewelers who cuts up massive amounts of natural turquoise from the American West, and creates future heirlooms with it. Each piece of his keeps tradition alive, beautifully.

This exceptional heishi necklace is long, wrapped in twine, as it would have been for ages past, but infinitely more refined than its historic counterparts. Those would have been crude and lumpy; this is incredibly regular and graduated in size. From the tiniest slices at the back, to the largest at the bottom of the necklace, the disks of natural turquoise grow imperceptibly larger, finally reaching a diameter of about 1/4″. The wonderful toasty matrix that is typical of high-grade Royston is visible in many of the tiny disks, adding warm complement to the Spring-green hue that is also typical. Lively, visually, it is wonderful worn on its own or layered with other necklaces..

Turquoise must be of the highest quality of hardness to become heishi. For every little disk, there is a pile of debris; heishi is both material-intensive and labor-intensive, involving cutting a lump of rock into small pieces, then drilling a hole in each one, squaring each one off, and eventually, polishing the tiny squares into lustrous disks.  There are turquoise casualties at each step, so much more of the stone is needed than ends up being strung and worn.

This beautiful strand of natural turquoise is very clearly all hand made, but the individual disks fit into one another so snugly, it seems as if each one is exactly the same width. In truth, they are very close, especially toward the bottom (front) of the necklace. The wrap is by far the most comfortable finish to a necklace, and it is also historically accurate; it it works, why change it? I can be molded to the shape of your neck, for weightless comfort.

And this contemporary artifact is meant to be worn. It will layer happily with other heishi, beads, and more, or make a sleek and elegantly casual statement on its own. The good news about heishi is that it is so wearable, that it amortizes quickly. So acquire this remarkable piece, and enjoy knowing you own a share of artistic and cultural history, as well as an extraordinary necklace. (Please note: earrings are sold seperately.)


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