Ernest used to watch my brother-in-law, and his father make jewelry, playing around with the silver scraps they gave him. He then took a silversmithing class at Monument Valley High School, which was where he got his start.
He received many awards and ribbons at the Navajo Nation Fair and the Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial, which jump-started his career.
He has developed a high reputation for heavy-gauge silver, with deep custom-designed stamp work. He is inspired by traditional jewelry styles, but designs his own “old style” series.
This traditional concho-style bolo is typical of his work,with its solid heft of silver and exquisitely precise and delicate stamp work.
Then, there is that magnificent turquoise, raised high in the center. A graceful oval of natural, spider web turquoise from Arizona’s Kingman mine, it echoes the tapered points of the stamped eagle feathers that surround it.
The tall, hand cut bezel is surrounded by a circlet of tiny silver beads, at its base. Like an oriental rug, there are borders after borders of different designs.
These borders, however, are stamped by hand, instead of woven. At the edge of the bolo, the arched stamps are cut, forming a scalloped silhouette.
The tips are just as carefully conceived and executed. Scalloped and finely stamped, they end in a handsome bead, circled by a row of tiny silver beads at the center, and a larger plain bead underneath.
Every part relates subtly to every other part, in this extraordinarily refined version of the traditional concho style. That superb, spider web turquoise is like the cherry on the cake!