Handcrafted by Santo Domingo artist Tina Tenorio, this necklace is a unique representation of the ancient art of heishi bead jewelry. Six strands of purple spiny oyster shell and turquoise beads form a beautiful color combination that will add beauty and artistry to your wardrobe. An organic feel and natural color palette make this necklace an ideal piece for jewelry lovers of all ages.
“I love making my jewelry pieces, and pray that each one goes to a very special person who will love it just like I do.” — Tina Tenorio
- Necklace handcrafted by Tina Tenorio (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
- Purple spiny oyster and turquoise, shell
- Sterling Silver
- Hook and eye closure
- Necklace measures 22 1/2” long
- 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.
Tina Tenorio has been creating traditional Santo Domingo jewelry for over 10 years, concentrating on retail shows instead of being online and in stores. Tenorio's customers usually have to seek her out in person, or have the good luck to chance upon her selling her work. Shumakolowa is the only online source for her sought-after jewelry.
“My parents are the reason I make jewelry today. I remember growing up and coming home to help them drill turquoise from scratch. My dad would slice and cut the stones, and me and my two brothers would sit around the table and drill ‘til it was time to eat dinner. On weekends my parents would wake us up to start on drilling, stringing them on wire, and then on regular string. My parents always made sure we knew how important it was to learn how to make jewelry, especially to learn what they learned from their parents, and to learn a second trade.
The only instruction we got was watching them every day make the jewelry they made, and still do to this day. Both my parents are 81 years old, and are still making the jewelry they showed us how to make 50 years ago.
I make my own jewelry that is different from what my parents make. I do all my own drilling of nuggets and heishi." — Tina Tenorio
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 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, and to provide 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.