Diné Single Strand Heishi and Turquoise Necklace

C4643-07-necklace.jpg

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Jeweler Unknown
  • Category: Necklaces
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: heishi, turquoise, silver
  • Size: 22 inches long
  • Item # C4643.07
  • Price: $1250

This Diné of the Navajo Nation necklace features a string of finely drilled and sanded shell heishi and a selection of 24 absolutely gorgeous turquoise gemstones. Most of the turquoise gemstones are a beautiful dark green or dark blue color. Some were drilled in the center and some on the edge.

The combination of such beautiful turquoise grouped together so closely is almost incomprehensible to fathom. The result is a necklace rich in color with an appearance of decades of age.

Heishi: made from coral, turquoise or seashell. The shells or coral are first cut into small square sections, drilled in the center, strung on wire or string, then sanded by hand, in an up and down stroke, until each one is round. That sounds easy but is not. It is important to exert the same pressure on every stroke to achieve heishi of the same diameter when finished. The shell is punched out in a square shape, hole drilled through center, strung, and then sanded to the diameter it needs to be. According to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the beaded tradition is most closely associated with Santo Domingo Pueblo, known for creating beautiful shell and gemstone beads by hand. These beads are called "heishi," which means "shell" in the Santo Domingo language Keres. Necklaces with similar bead styles have been found in the ancient Anasazi sites Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, and heishi may be the oldest form of jewelry in New Mexico. Traditionally, heishi beads are smooth flat discs, but today the term is used to refer to any small beads that are strung together. Note: Sometimes the word is incorrectly seen as hieshe.  We were always told that "i" before "e" was correct, but apparently "e" before "i" is used for heishe.


Condition: very good condition

Provenance: this Diné Single Strand Heishi and Turquoise Necklace is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: Navajo Jewelry: A Legacy of Silver and Stone by Lois Jacka

TAGS: Southwest Indian JewelryNavajoNecklace

A simple hook and loop secures this necklace.

Alternate close up view of a section of this Turquoise necklace.

Jeweler Unknown
  • Category: Necklaces
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: heishi, turquoise, silver
  • Size: 22 inches long
  • Item # C4643.07
  • Price: $1250

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