April 20, 2022
As you have surely noticed, the pandemic has really messed up a lot of operations throughout the world. From purchasing goods such as cars and electronics to finding grocery store staples, restarting the world’s economies has impacted nearly every person in every sector. While macroeconomic problems are running rampant, challenges have trickled down to the micro-level, affecting even the tiniest businesses and suppliers. The Stagecoach is no exception, and we are experiencing our fair share of issues, with no end in sight. One of our most difficult challenges is obtaining Native American jewelry and art, our most prominent and important product lines. In 2021 the challenge was finding traditional turquoise jewelry, the fundamental pieces that any Native American jewelry store carries. This includes turquoise jewelry with simple cabochons handmade in sterling silver. These are the pieces that people think typically think of in a turquoise jewelry store. Our largest supplier closed shop during the pandemic and left us scrambling. We were able to cope with this partly by sticking Gary, our owner, and in-house silversmith, in his workshop and telling him not to leave until he has made as much jewelry as possible (you’d be amazed what he can do when provided with coffee and a jar of peanuts to snack on).
With the arrival of 2022, we have seen the easing of some problems while others have reared their heads. Our supply of traditional turquoise jewelry is in the realm of normal levels once again. We have found a couple of new suppliers for this sort of work. A new issue that we have faced this year is getting David Rosales jewelry, our most popular line. In the past, we have loaded up on jewelry early in the year from David Rosales while at a purchasing show. Unfortunately, this show collapsed during the pandemic. It has now been revamped in a different location, but David Rosales has elected not to attend. This show was teetering on the brink of failure before the pandemic, and I suspect it no longer made sense for them to make such a long trip. We were now faced with the question of how to get jewelry from them.
My wife and I decided, rather impulsively, to take a trip down to see David Rosales in Gallup, NM. My wife is a teacher with spring break, and I was able to get my absence covered at the Stagecoach. We made a fun trip out of it by first heading to Santa Fe, a 650-mile drive. If you have never been to Santa Fe, it is a wonderful town packed full of Southwestern art museums, lovely pueblo architecture, and amazing Mexican food. It is a celebration of Native American jewelry and art, both old and new. My wife and I enjoyed the beautiful Native American rugs and blankets that can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, as well as jewelry from master artists such as Charles Loloma and others. Santa Fe is truly a marvelous town with amazing art and culture.
After spending some time in Santa Fe, my wife and I headed to Gallup, another two hundred miles down the road. We arrived at David’s headquarters and worked with his daughter, Sheree. She gave us a tour of their operation and we got to meet a lot of their talented workers. I have been here before, but this was my wife’s first time seeing Supersmith’s operation up close. It was a wonderful experience and helped give her a greater appreciation for their work. You gain a new perspective when you can see how much time and effort goes into each piece of Native American jewelry. Like many businesses across the country, Supersmith has struggled to find enough workers to fulfil its needs. The turnaround time for making pieces has steadily increased over the past year or two, a suboptimal situation for everyone. David Rosales and his team have refused to cut corners to speed up the process. They take whatever time is required to ensure their Native American jewelry is of the highest quality. I have a great appreciation for this philosophy, and it helps reinforce our trust in their operation.
We spent around four hours with David and Sheree. After the shop tour, we set to work picking out jewelry. Due to the backlog of orders, they did not have a lot for us to choose from. Sheree even brought out pieces that were not finished yet for us to pick from. We picked out what we could and then spent some time ordering from their catalog. This is a bit unorthodox, but such are the times. We have some new jewelry now and will be receiving more over the next couple of months. I ordered quite a few rings, as well as two large necklaces that we have never carried before. Once this batch of David Rosales jewelry arrives, we will evaluate whether we need to order more. You can rest assured that we will have plenty of beautiful David Rosales jewelry for you through the rest of the year.
After we left Supersmith, there was one more stop that we wanted to make in Gallup. We wanted to inquire about Calvin Begay jewelry, an artist that we carried many years ago. Like David Rosales, Calvin Begay designs primarily inlaid work and has a team of Navajo artists that create his designs. Calvin Begay has always created a lot of high-quality work, but it didn’t make sense for us to carry two lines of inlaid Native American jewelry. However, we have always been fascinated by their Starry Night Collection, where they use stones to create pictures of Southwestern pueblos under nighttime skies. The amount of precise detail in this work is unbelievable as each tiny stone is cut and inlaid by hand. The pueblo buildings are created with picture jasper and the dark night skies are jet. The artists use lab-created opals for shooting stars with small round silver pieces for stationary stars. These pictures are fascinating to look at and really capture the essence of the American Southwest. Arizona and New Mexico are fortunate to have so much area that does not suffer from heavy light pollution. This makes the Southwest a great area for stargazing, a feature these artists love to highlight in their work. David Rosales can create similar work, but this is Calvin Begay’s specialty. Be sure to peruse these pieces, they are absolutely wonderful. We hope that this Calvin Begay Starry Night Collection proves popular so that we can expand our offering in the future. I am even considering a bolo tie for myself!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our newest collection of Native American jewelry. Keep checking back to see more new pieces from Calvin Begay and David Rosales. We have more David Rosales jewelry being made right now and may need to get more from Calvin Begay. I will post these pieces to our website as they arrive. You can browse our current collection of Native American Jewelry at this link. As always, if you have any questions or are interested in a particular piece of jewelry, please let us know!
February 16, 2022
December 06, 2021