Currently All David Rosales Jewelry Requires 6 Weeks To Make
February 12, 2023 3 Comments
Once again, we are in the depths of a new year, which means, once again, that I have a belated best-of list. Today we are discussing Stagecoach’s best jewelry of the year 2022. As always, this is a subjective list of what I consider our top jewelry from the past year, based on technical difficulties, stone quality, and my own personal preference. If you follow our jewelry, please let us know if you agree or disagree with my list. No doubt there are pieces I am forgetting, and it is helpful to refresh my memory. Let’s dive into the best jewelry of 2022!
Mystic Pearl was our first new collection from David Rosales in several years. It arrived late in the year, around November, and we only had a small sampling of pieces. The Mystic Pearl Collection consists of mother of pearl and cultured opal inlaid together. Mother of pearl is a shell commonly seen in Zuni Native American jewelry, often as an accent. You could call it a classic stone from the early days of Native American inlay work. Seeing it used as the primary color is less common and mixed with opal is unheard of, to my knowledge.
A brand-new look from David Rosales Designs, the Mystic Pearl Collection's icy appearance is made from lab-created opal and mother of pearl.
The Mystic Pearl Collection offers a bright and fresh appearance for Native American jewelry. It has an icy appearance, assisted by the iridescent qualities of both the mother of pearl and cultured opal. When I see this collection, I am cheerfully reminded of Elsa, the ice queen from the movie Frozen. At the same time, these colors display an aura of elegance that would fit alongside diamond-laced, lavishly dressed ballroom dancers. Dress this jewelry down for more simplistic and bright everyday wear.
David Rosales and his team of Native American artists create some of the most colorful and versatile jewelry imaginable. The Mystic Pearl Collection fits squarely in this wheelhouse. Look for more of this jewelry in 2023.
Continuing the trend of jewelry categories, we come to our Calvin Begay Starry Night jewelry. Similar to David Rosales, Calvin Begay creates fantastic Native American inlay designs. While he does create similar work to David Rosales, his specialty is the Starry Night Collection. Using amazingly intricate inlay work, these artists create images of Native American pueblos resting under a night sky full of stars. These pieces have black onyx as a base, along with picture jasper and cultured opal. They use tiny silver pieces for the stars. This jewelry highlights the immense artistry that Native American jewelers can employ.
It's hard to fathom the level of detail in this Calvin Begay jewelry. Their pieces are incredible displays of Native American artistry.
We carried Calvin Begay's jewelry many years ago. Due to the success of our David Rosales line, we chose to cut our offering from Calvin. That isn’t to say that his jewelry was in any way worse, but simply that we were seeing success from David’s line and didn’t have a need for both. However, Calvin Begay’s Starry Night Collection really is top notch and we decided to reintroduce it after many years. After our initial unveiling, we were unable to replenish this due to some supply chain issues. Hopefully, you will see more of this stunning work in 2023.
2022 was the year that I started fully making jewelry. There have been a few other pieces in the past that I created with the help of my father, Gary. However, this typically consisted of me designing the piece and doing some basic operations while he performed the more complex jewelry-making work. In the spring of 2022, I finally set out to make my own pieces. To have the freedom to learn and experiment, I began making jewelry without informing anyone, even Gary, who purchases all the needed materials. In fact, it was a few months before Gary happily found out that I was making my own jewelry. This allowed me to learn, create, and fail on my own terms. I was able to put my name on quite a few pieces of jewelry during the year. This triangular Kingman turquoise ring was one of my favorites.
Early in the year, before I began making jewelry, we met one of our stone suppliers. These guys always have some incredible stones and are a highlight of this trip. During this meeting, as Gary was picking out new turquoise stones for himself, I found one triangular stone that spoke to me. I kept holding it up to my finger thinking that it would make a striking ring. Completely smitten, I slipped it into our bundle of stones, and it found a permanent place in the back of my head. Perhaps this single turquoise stone was the impetus I needed to begin taking jewelry-making seriously.
I created a design that would complement this captivating stone. I loved how this ring turned out.
I designed a heavy silver ring around this stone. To complement the stone’s triangular shape, I gave the ring points on the top and bottom. I inversed the curves along the stone’s sides and added them to my ring’s shank. Finally, I gave this ring a deep texturing that was simple and contemporary. The result was something that I was incredibly proud of. When I placed it in our jewelry case, I happily thought that it outshone all our other men’s rings. I decided that this creative, striking ring represented the type of jewelry that I wanted to make in the future.
David Rosales has hundreds of jewelry designs to choose from. Pick any design and it can be inlaid with their many color collections. Occasionally, however, a customer has a specific design in mind. David will fully custom-create jewelry for us, though it tends to be more expensive. This is because of the increased costs of making a one-off piece, as opposed to a design that can be repeated. Every now and then we have a customer that insists on a fully custom piece. It can be a challenge to nail what the customer envisions in their mind down on paper, but normally the result is worth the work. It is a lot of fun to see a fully custom piece of inlaid jewelry become a reality.
Sonoran Gold turquoise and Mother of Pearl are not normal colors we would use together. They turned out well in this custom cross pendant by David Rosales.
You can see how large this Sonoran turquoise cross pendant was. It was truly a showpiece!
A pastor contacted us and wanted a large cross pendant that would be easily visible during his sermons. It took several weeks of three-way communication to get the design, size, and colors correct. The pastor settled on beautiful green Sonoran Gold turquoise with mother of pearl arrows pointing inward. To enhance the arrows, each is outlined with black jade. These are not colors that any of us would have thought to combine but they turned out well.
Other than the intense colors, the most notable feature of this cross pendant is its sheer size. We settled on a cross that is four inches tall and across. Four inches may not sound like a lot but believe me, it is large. For reference, the largest David Rosales pendant that we currently have in stock is less than half that size. Such a large pendant means that it also weighs a lot as well. When combined with its sizable silver beaded necklace, you might end up with a sore neck! Regardless, it was enjoyable designing this cross pendant and seeing it brought to life. David Rosales and his team never cease to amaze us with their bountiful talent.
The next three pieces of jewelry on this list come from Gary (he can’t say I’m not giving him the spotlight). This first piece is a stunning bracelet that certainly deserves to be on this list. Though its creation involved more time than the average bracelet, I simply cannot put it above the next two, one of which is an entire jewelry set and the following is a more abstract piece unlike anything he has made previously. Therefore, this turquoise bracelet lands here at number six.
This bracelet features twelve Sonoran Mountain turquoise stones and flowery engravings on the sides.
This bracelet has twelve turquoise stones set together in a unified pattern. Setting a single stone in a piece of jewelry takes time and effort. While twelve stones don't require twelve times the effort, they do take a lot more than one. On top of all the time needed to set these stones, Gary added a flowery design to the bracelet’s shank. He used his hand-engraver with this design and blackened it to stand out. Engraving is a special technique that we do here at Stagecoach that relatively few artists do. It requires a high entry level in terms of equipment and skill. Gary uses this a lot to add extra details to his jewelry.
This large turquoise cuff bracelet was simple but involved a great deal of work. You got a great display of turquoise to show off with this bracelet. Due to the cost of stones and the time requirement, Gary hasn’t made many bracelets like this. This one definitely deserves a place on this list.
Each year Gary makes two or three full turquoise jewelry sets, which include a grand necklace. He often utilizes his favorite leaves and flowers style, which he learned many years ago from Les Baker. The multi-section necklace requires the time and work of three normal pendants. These sets are always amazing to see when Gary is finished, and they are a focal point of our jewelry display.
Gary made this set with Golden Hills turquoise, which is currently one of our most popular types. This material comes from Kazakhstan and has a matte blue color along with a rusty red matrix. This unique tone has made Golden Hills a highly sought-after type of turquoise. Gary made a three-stone necklace along with a matching ring and pair of earrings. While the necklace is obviously the most work-intensive piece, my favorite is the ring. Its stone has beautifully contrasting colors, including its intricate red matrix, deep blue, and the near white towards the top. This is a stunning turquoise jewelry set that Gary put a lot of time and effort into. It’s wonderful to see him create these high-quality pieces of jewelry!
This Golden Hills turquoise jewelry set has beautiful stones, contrasting colors, and lots of detail. What a wonderful set this is!
It seems like every year Gary challenges himself to make one or two pieces that are completely fresh and different. On 2021’s list, I talked about his Stone-on-Stone Lapis and Turquoise Pendant in the same vein. That was a highly technical piece of jewelry, unlike anything that he had ever made previously.
This reversible sterling opal pendant is similar because it is technical and vastly different. In fact, the reversible nature of this pendant would not have been possible without a new piece of equipment that we purchased this past year. Still, it involved using this equipment in a way that we hadn’t before (or since). This was a challenging one, certainly the toughest on this list.
Gary set a sterling opal inside this hand-fabricated silver casing. This was a technical piece of jewelry unlike anything he had made previously.
This pendant features a radiant sterling opal stone that was encased in a clamshell-like housing of silver. The opal is visible through an intricately cut opening that Gary designed and engraved. Flip this pendant around and you will find dense stamping with a pretty flower design in the center. The outer casing makes this pendant three-dimensional, like an enlarged locket necklace or a pillow. The way that this pendant is structured would not have been possible (or at least astonishingly difficult and risky) before due to the heat constraints of the sterling opal stone. Our new equipment made it possible, though still difficult, to create a pendant with a stone encased in silver. This was unequivocally a think-outside-the-box piece of jewelry for Gary. What outrageous piece of jewelry will he come up with next?
This image shows the stamped reverse side of this pendant. Gary added a flower in the center as the focal point.
This next piece of jewelry is different from anything made here at Stagecoach before. For lack of a better name, I call this the multi-layered eagle bracelet. Inspired by Ray Winner, an artist famous for this type of work, it features multiple layers of silver to create the impression of layered bird feathers. A customer came to us with an idea for an eagle bracelet that was not feasible for us to make because it was a cast piece. We gave her this idea and she was excited. This bracelet required an extensive amount of time and work for both Gary and me. I handled the overall design and the cutting of the silver, while Gary did the difficult solder work.
Designing this was akin to designing five different bracelets in one. Each of the five layers had to be individually drawn out so that they would fit on top of one another. The precise dimensions had to be calculated before cutting could commence with each layer being slightly smaller than the last. The cutting itself was quite exhaustive because there is so much silver in this piece. These beginning processes took a long time to accomplish. I then handed this over to Gary to engrave the details in the wings. Believe me, there is a lot of engraving here. The engraving alone probably took a couple of hours to finish.
An in-progress image of the silver eagle bracelet. Four layers of silver were cut and soldered together. The bracelet is awaiting its fifth layer in this image.
I also let Gary handle the soldering because he is much more experienced. Most of the jewelry that we make here at Stagecoach are small pieces that are quick and relatively simple to solder. Normally, the biggest concern is overheating the silver which could result in damage or a completely melted ball. The opposite was true with this bracelet due to the size and quantity of silver. To solder something like this, you must heat the entire surface to the point that all of the solder will melt at the same time. Our torch is incredibly hot, but its small size is not ideal for this type of work. It can be very tricky to solder something like this even with Gary’s years of experience.
This eagle bracelet required weeks of designing and work. That, on top of the amount of silver, made this a very serious bracelet for us.
After a great deal of time and effort, this eagle bracelet turned out wonderfully. It required at least two or three weeks of off and on work. We were immensely proud of how it turned out!
As a silversmith, I find myself randomly getting lost in thoughts of jewelry designs. I have some go-to basics that always work. However, I am constantly hunting and thinking about new and unusual designs. It seems like when I sit down and specifically try dreaming up new ideas, I get nowhere. Most ideas magically appear in my mind at sporadic moments. Unfortunately, these sporadic moments of brilliant ideas happen far too infrequently. The design for these earrings was one of those ideas that I was incredibly pleased with.
The Kingman turquoise stones in these earrings are full of character. That tight, golden matrix stands out brilliantly.
I created a set of silver arrowpoints using a technique similar to what you see in wooden puzzles. This required a great deal of thought and trial to even determine if this was possible. I even made a model out of paper to see if it was feasible before potentially wasting expensive silver. The actual work on making these arrowpoints was time-consuming as well. When the work was finished, I was thrilled with how these turned out. Much of the time, jewelry tends to be very two-dimensional. This is especially true for handmade jewelry. Casting can result in some greater dimensional jewelry, but we don't do that here, nor do I consider that purely handmade. The wonderful thing about these earrings is they have much more three-dimensional depth. For added detail, I engraved and textured part of the arrowpoints. I did this after they were constructed, which was much more difficult than on a flat, two-dimensional surface. I loved the result of these earrings and thought they were striking. It is a unique style that I have never seen in handmade jewelry.
The arrowpoint pieces were difficult to engineer. They involved a lot of experimentation to get it right. The detailing had to be added after the fact, which was much more laborious.
These arrowpoint turquoise earrings also have beautiful Kingman turquoise stones. I love the color and beautiful matrix in these. This Kingman turquoise has so much character and is some of my favorite.
The customer who purchased these earrings expressed interest in a matching pendant. This required a whole other level of engineering. Because the earrings freely dangle, the arrowpoints could jut out on four sides. However, a pendant sits against a person’s chest and would not lay correctly with this sort of structure. I had to conceive of a larger arrowpoint built in the same fashion that would lay correctly. In some ways, this pendant was even more challenging than the earrings. Thankfully, I was able to figure it out and the pendant matched the earrings marvelously.
I created a matching arrowpoint pendant to go along with the earrings. The pendant had its own set of challenges for me to solve.
Egyptian turquoise has become extremely popular in the last couple of years. It has the perfect combination of beauty and history. Egyptian was the original turquoise mine, used thousands of years ago, in the age of pharaohs. This is the same mine from the days of ancient Egypt, so this turquoise has a spectacular history. It also has a lovely, beautiful coloring that is unique to this mine. High quality Egyptian turquoise is deep blue with a dark matrix. Unlike some other types of turquoise, the matrix cuts through this stone clearly and distinctly. It is a gorgeous stone with an elegant appearance. Like Sleeping Beauty, I could see Egyptian turquoise being used in high-end luxury jewelry from the likes of Tiffany and Co., Cartier, and others. It has a simple and opulent quality.
Gary has had a source for Egyptian turquoise for several years now, even before its popularity grew in such an exponential way. He can get some incredibly high-quality stones directly from the miner. Using some of these, he created a full set of jewelry, like the Golden Hills turquoise set mentioned above. He made a necklace, bracelet, and ring with this turquoise. All three of these pieces featured plentiful silverwork surrounding large stones. This jewelry is robust and meant to be noticed by all.
All three pieces in this Egyptian turquoise jewelry set are amazing. This is a jewelry set like no other.
Of the three pieces of Egyptian turquoise jewelry that Gary made, my favorite was the bracelet. It was a cuff with a large and heavy shank. Inspect the shank and you will notice a wealth of detail, including notched edges, hand-engraved lines, and lovely stamp work. Gary used sizeable leaves that hug the stone in the center. The amount of detailed artistry in this bracelet is out of this world. Combined with the beautiful round turquoise stone and you have a one-of-a-kind bracelet unlike any other.
The Egyptian turquoise bracelet was my favorite. Gary utilized many techniques in this piece, including stamp work, engraving, and texturing.
We were so enamored by this Egyptian turquoise set that we set a release date and countdown for its unveiling. We alerted our closest fans to an exciting new collection to watch for. I spent a lot of time photographing these pieces to share with our followers. We would only do this for some of our finest work!
There you have it, the top ten pieces of jewelry from Stagecoach in 2022. Do you disagree with something on this list? Did I forget something that should have been included? Let me know in the comments below (or stop in and badger me at Stagecoach)! Otherwise, I hope you have enjoyed this list. One reason I try to (eventually) put this list together each year is because it is valuable to see a full collection of our work. We try to always have amazing high-quality handmade jewelry here at Stagecoach and it is fun to see a comprehensive list showing some of our top pieces. I try to include varying selections from Gary, myself, and other artists that we feature here at Stagecoach. Be on the lookout for more new pieces of jewelry coming in 2023!
April 06, 2023
March 11, 2023