Enhance your style with the bold look of this three-strand heishi-bead necklace.
Santo Domingo artists Mary and Gerard Calabaza drew from both traditional and contemporary influences to handcraft this piece in a classic design. Jet, melon shell, blue turquoise, and apple coral beads are strung together in an unexpected and striking pattern, creating a vibrant and contemporary color palette that will add warmth to any outfit.
A unique statement piece, this heishi-bead necklace can be worn with ease inside the collar of a favorite blouse, or with a scoop neck shirt.
- Necklace handcrafted by Mary and Gerard Calabaza (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
- Jet, melon shell, blue turquoise, apple coral
- Hook and eye closure
- Necklace is 18” long with a 4” extender
- 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.
Mary and Gerard Calabaza, jewelers from Santo Domingo Pueblo, are a husband and wife duo known for handcrafting exquisite heishi beads and creating beautiful statement necklaces in traditional and contemporary styles. Each piece they create is a unique work of art.
Gerard learned the art of making heishi necklaces from his parents, Pula and Delphanita Calabaza, at the age of 13. Mary learned jewelry- and pottery-making from her parents as well, at the age of 12. She credits her mother for teaching her how to drill, grind, and slice stones. Mary married into the Calabaza family and joined her husband in the family legacy of making high-quality heishi necklaces and jewelry.
Many Native American artists working today are inspired by the interplay between traditional and contemporary styles. In their work they feel it is important to honor their history, heritage, and culture, including the art forms and techniques passed down through generations of Pueblo families. By mixing and matching techniques, materials, and themes that are contemporary and traditional, they create inspiring work that has made the modern Native American art world extremely vibrant.
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 Ancestral Pueblo sites (formerly referred to as Anasazi) 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.