This multi-gemstone thunderbird pendant necklace handcrafted by Rodney Coriz of Santo Domingo Pueblo is an exquisite statement piece for collectors of genuine Native American jewelry. Skillfully blending traditional and contemporary elements, Coriz has crafted a necklace that evokes the the past while continuing the distinquished legacy of Santo Domingo thunderbird jewelry.
- Thunderbird necklace handcrafted by Rodney Coriz (Santo Domingo)
- Pendant measures 2-1/4" L x 1-1/8" W
- Necklace measures 28-1/4” long x 1/4" W
- 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.
Rodney Coriz is a renowned jeweler from Santo Domingo Pueblo who does shell, bead, and silver work in a variety of styles. He is known for exceptional inlay work and colorful beaded pieces he creates with gemstones cut by hand.
Throughout his career he has been inspired by the traditional techniques used by his mother and grandmother, who taught him bead-making. They created beads by grinding gems against rocks, and made jewelry using handmade tools. Coriz studied metalsmithing at the Poeh Cultural Center in New Mexico, and his work has been shown at the Heard Museum and Millicent Rogers Museum.
The thunderbird is a symbol closely associated with Pueblo culture. Though the history of the design is not clear, it is seen as a symbol of strength, fertility and abundance. Santo Domingo artists are known for reviving and popularizing the thunderbird design in the early 1900s. When traditional materials were unavailable during the Great Depression, they turned to repurposed and found materials such as car batteries, records, and household plastics to create colorful necklaces with a thunderbird motif. Tourists were captivated by these handmade pieces, and today thunderbird jewelry is a celebrated style among Santo Domingo artists and 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 Ancestral Pueblo (formerly referred to as Anasazi) 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.