Turquoise Heishi Necklace with Jacla by Santo Domingo Chris Ely Montoya, Native American Jewelry

$1,125.00 $1,500.00

This hand-crafted single strand necklace was made in the late 1990s by Santo Domingo (Kewa) artists Chris & Ely Montoya. It was made with hand-rolled turquoise heishi beads, the blue green color carrying warm brown matrix throughout, and on the necklace the beads are separated by shell heishi spacers. At the bottom of the strand are tied two jacla loops, long with purple spiny oyster beads at the bottom of each loop. Santo Domingo Pueblo, located north of me by about 33 miles, is the leading producer of heishi, which is a Keresen word meaning "shell," although the term "heishi" now applies to the sliced flat circular beads made of any natural material, including turquoise. This form of jewelry is similar to what has been found in Anasazi excavations. Turquoise heishi beads are made by slicing stone into uniform strips, then nipping pieces into small squares. Each square has a hole drilled in it, and then the squares are strung on strings, each grouping worked to produce uniform size. The strings of squares are smoothed and rounded. They are eventually rolled into beads, which is why we use the term "hand-rolled." While hand tools may be used for drilling or grinding, Santo Domingo make their heishi beads by hand, unlike machine made fakes imported into the US and sold as authentic. Real Santo Domingo turquoise heishi beads are so smooth, so well-worked, that in the hand they feel like a rope or a serpent. It is common for Santo Domingo to tie onto the end of heishi necklaces these jacla (also sometimes called "jocla") and centuries ago, the original jacla would have been a pair of heishi earrings tied onto a heishi necklace. Later, loops of heishi specific for this purpose were tied onto the lower center of the heishi necklace. The previous owner of this necklace is a Native American jewelry collector and former dealer, whose own collection made up most of the exhibit of the Albuquerque Museum's show in late 2018-early 2019. My friend bought this necklace directly from the Montoyas, who he met over 20 years ago in Old Town Albuquerque. He tells me they would today be in their late 70s/early 80s, but when he first met them they used to sit under the portal near the restaurant in Old Town. Living in Old Town himself, he befriended them and now considers them dear friends. Of them he says: "They make their own beads, they still drill with a pump drill. They don't go out and buy beads and simply string them." This is one of two necklaces made by the Montoyas that I bought. It is perfect for wearing alone or layering.


The necklace has a squaw wrap, which means it's a continuous loop, no clasp. Measuring around, it is 29", so will hang fairly low, which again, makes it great for layering. The jacla hang another almost 5" long. Weighs 111g. There are a couple of small divots in the turquoise heishi but no completely broken pieces. In very good condition, stored in a bank security box for most of the past 20+ years.

Gorgeous turquoise and artistry.

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Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.

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For More Native Necklaces, Pendants, and Pins: http://bit.ly/2ESs4Tf
Native American Earrings: http://bit.ly/2FyZ8wy
Native American Rings: http://bit.ly/2HQXwyY
Native Bracelets and Watches: https://bit.ly/2NpeypL
Native Belts and Bolos: http://bit.ly/2oz2XKp
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