Leonard Nez’s jewelry is featured in the Smithsonian Institution. It is characterized by excellent chiseling, stamp work, and deeply grooved overlay.
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. And, also like Gibson, Leonard is an avid rodeo participant.
This bolo displays his skill, design sense, and showcases a very fine stone.
Tyrone turquoise comes from a now-closed copper mine in southwestern New Mexico. The mine hasn’t produced any turquoise since the ’80s when Phelps Dodge changed its method of mining copper to the process of crushing and acid wash which destroys the Turquoise.
The brilliant blue of this turquoise is a perfect compliment to the shining, polished sterling silver of the bolo.
There are actually two, separate, overlaid areas and designs in this bolo: the center, which is slightly raised above the other overlaid design, and the lower one, encompassing stylized feather motifs and stepped rain signs.
The beautiful stone is set with three different bezels around it: a plain and oxidized one that supports it, one that is chiseled, to relate to the chiseled feather motifs on the flat border, and the last, outer one, that is polished to a high shine like the edge of the center plaque.
On either side of the centerpiece, a stylized sterling silver “ketoh” or bow guard design commonly used in Navajo jewelry has been overlaid onto another layer of silver, with the negative spaces accented by the dark oxidization, another hallmark of this artists work.
Feathers are symbols of prayers, as in this case, usually for rain.
The precisely cut elements are laid over a flat and darkened silver background, with a thin, raised frame around it.
Cylindrical tips are chiseled in parallel lines, subtly echoing the chiseled lines prominent in the bolo itself. Kept very simple, they give a finished look to the bolo but don’t compete for attention.
A timeless bolo of the highest quality in every way: Exemplary silver work, in an updated and beautiful, classic design, with a rare and lovely, natural turquoise.
Leonard has come a very long way from shifting heavy equipment!