Enhance your style with the elegant look of a long 10-strand heishi bead necklace. Santo Domingo artists Percy and Charlotte Reano drew from their traditional influences to handcraft the hundreds of beads that comprise this classic and statement-making design. Smooth cascading strands of hand-cut melon shell with accent beads of turquoise, pen shell, and apple coral create a vibrant Southwestern color palette that will add warmth to any outfit. This heishi necklace brings a traditional art form with modern sophistication to your wardrobe.
- It took six weeks to cut, shape, and string the hundreds of fine hand-cut beads for this 10-strand necklace
- Percy is also a silversmith, and handcrafted the silver findings for this necklace, whereas many other artists purchase commercially made findings
- Contains over 18 linear feet of tiny hand-cut, hand-shaped shell and stone beads
Melon shell has been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years for decorative purposes, and as a tool.
Apple coral is a sustainable, non-endangered type of coral used by conscionable jewelers in lieu of traditional red coral.
Pen shell has been used by cultures around the globe for decorative and utilitarian purposes for centuries beyond counting.
Turquoise beads have been made in the Southwest for thousands of years. The Ancestral Puebloan site of Chaco Canyon was at the center of turquoise trade routes stretching from the Pacific Northwest to Central America. Some Native Americans believe the gem was a gift from the spirits, and call it the Sky Stone.
- Necklace handcrafted by Percy and Charlotte Reano (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
- Melon shell with accent beads of turquoise, pen shell, and apple coral
- Hook and eye closure
- Necklace measures 23” long x 1/2” wide
- Comes with a signed Certificate of Authenticity
Handcrafted works of Native American art require special care. For more information about proper care and cleaning, please read our Care Guide.
Charlotte & Percy Reano are a husband and wife team of highly skilled jewelry artists from Santo Domingo Pueblo. Percy is most known for his very precisely crafted mosaic inlay; he is a member of the famed Reano family who revived the tradition of inlay jewelry in Santo Domingo. Charlotte is originally from San Felipe Pueblo and is most known for carrying on the ancient art of heishi, creating fine shell and gemstone heishi beads by hand. The pair often collaborate to make vivid one-of-a-kind inlay designs.
Many Native American artists are inspired by their rich cultural history and the traditions of art, dance, community, and cuisine that have been carefully passed down for generations. From colorful shell beadwork and mosaic inlay to Navajo weaving and Pueblo pottery, many art forms are unique to the Pueblo people of New Mexico and tribes of the Southwest. Native American artists are inspired to preserve these traditional art forms, using them to tell stories of their history and culture while also preserving the high standards of craftsmanship that make their work distinctive, valuable, and lasting.
In Santo Domingo Pueblo, bead-making has been a central part of life for centuries. These beads are known as “heishi,” which means “shell” in Keres, the Santo Domingo language. Most heishi beads are rolled into smooth flat discs, but heishi can refer to any small beads that have been made by hand. Heishi may be the oldest form of jewelry in New Mexico, and necklaces with similar bead styles have been found in the ancient Ancestral Pueblo sites of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.
The process is extremely labor intensive, and it can take up to two weeks to make a single strand of heishi beads. First, the shell or gemstone is sliced into strips, then clipped by hand into small squares. These unfinished beads are drilled and strung on a fine wire. Next, the artist turns the string of beads against a stone wheel to make them round, further shaping and smoothing with sandpaper. Finally, the beads are run against a leather belt to achieve a fine polish. Today, fewer and fewer artists are creating their beads by hand, making true handcrafted heishi necklaces an extremely valuable piece for art and jewelry collectors.Read our Native American Jewelry Collector's Guide.
At Shumakolowa Native Arts, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes, and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase, and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft. Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer.
At a time when many commercially made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 35 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.