This superb mosaic inlay necklace was handcrafted by award-winning Santo Domingo artists Charlene and Frank Reano. At the center of the serpentine heishi bead necklace are five elegant dangles that represent feathers. This element is reversible: one side features traditional colors of the Southwest in turquoise, apple coral, clam shell and pink muscle shell; the other features a vibrant palette of denim lapis, melon shell, apple coral, purple spiny oyster, mother of pearl and abalone. Accenting the heishi necklace is a cube bead also created through mosaic inlay. A specialty of the Reano family, mosaic inlay is a technique in which small gemstone tiles are placed on a shell or gemstone backing. Every gemstone in this piece has been cut by hand by the artists. A vibrant work of wearable art, this necklace is a lasting and contemporary example of a beloved Santo Domingo jewelry technique.
- Necklace handcrafted by Charlene & Frank Reano (San Felipe/Santo Domingo Pueblo)
- Sterling silver
- Denim lapis, melon shell, apple coral, purple spiny oyster shell, white mother of pearl, abalone on one side; pink muscle shell, turquoise, apple coral and clam shell on other, on jet backing; serpentine, pipe stone, mother of pearl and turquoise beads
- Lobster claw clasp
- Necklaces measures 20” and center feather detail measures 1-3/8” x 1-5/8”
- 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.
Charlene Sanchez Reano and Frank Reano are a husband and wife team of artists from Santo Domingo Pueblo known for contemporary mosaic inlay jewelry. Originally from San Felipe Pueblo, Charlene learned jewelry-making from her sister-in-law Angie Reano, who is known for reviving mosaic inlay jewelry in Santo Domingo. Frank learned the art from his parents, Clara and Lovato Reano. Together, the Reanos create incredible mosaic inlay work that incorporates contemporary silhouettes and designs as well as unique reversible jewelry.
Mosaic inlay jewelry is a signature style of Santo Domingo jewelers. Artists create mosaic inlay by attaching tiny gemstone tiles to a shell or gemstone base, forming colorful and unique patterns. The technique can be traced back to early forms of jewelry unearthed at Anasazi sites throughout the Southwest, and many artists model their inlay designs after these early artifacts. Angie Reano Owen is credited with reviving the tradition of inlaid jewelry in Santo Domingo Pueblo in the 1970s, and today Santo Domingo mosaic inlay is one of the jewelry styles most sought after by collectors of Native American art.
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 the Santo Domingo language Keres. 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 Anasazi sites 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 sand paper. 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.