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Top Ten Handmade Jewelry of 2021

by Skylar Glandon February 16, 2022 1 Comment

Egyptian Scarab Pendant by Skylar Glandon

We are once again in the early days of a new year. You see a lot of year-end roundups this time of year, from the top songs and books to the biggest news stories from the last year. Of course, the most important and anticipated list is the top handmade jewelry from Stagecoach. I created this list for the first time a year ago and it was a fun summary of our favorite jewelry from the previous year. So, I decided to bring it back again for you to enjoy. Admittedly, I am a little late getting this list published this time around. We have had a lot going on here at Stagecoach and, because of its length, this list takes some time to write. I hope that you will still enjoy this, and I will try to get next year’s out sooner. 

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while reading this top ten list. With one-of-a-kind jewelry, we don’t have a way to quantify what the top pieces are. For instance, it is not possible to use the best-selling jewelry because once one of these pieces is gone, we typically do not get another. So, this list could be renamed “Skylar’s Subjectively Favorite Jewelry of 2021.” It is a list of the pieces that I think were the most unique, required the most challenging work to create, or simply the ones that I found most interesting or attractive. Another thing to note is that I was the designer/creator of a few pieces this past year. I have tried my best to be unbiased with this list, but it isn’t totally possible. If there is something that you do not agree with or a piece that I left off this list be sure to let me know in the comments. With those items out of the way, let’s begin our list of Stagecoach’s Top Jewelry of 2021!

Explore all our wonderful Handmade Jewelry right here.

  1. Golden Hills Turquoise Jewelry

I’m beginning this list by breaking my own rules right out of the gate. The number 10 spot is technically not one piece of jewelry but four. This is because they were all four made at the same time as a matching set. They all have the same styling and type of stones, and it would be difficult to choose a favorite. So, I have lumped them together for the number 10 spot.

Golden Hills Turquoise Ring and Pendant

This is our Golden Hills turquoise set of a ring, bracelet, earrings, and pendant. Golden Hills turquoise is distinctive for several reasons. First, it originates in Kazakhstan, which is a place that does not normally come to mind when you think of high-quality turquoise. However, there are neighboring countries that do produce quite a bit, particularly China. Not only is its location unique but its appearance is as well. Golden Hills turquoise has a coloring that ranges between white, gray, light blue, and dark blue. There is also a brown matrix that travels through these stones. These colors are soft and a bit dull, though very pretty with a look all its own. In the turquoise world, this unique stone has become quite popular and trendy.

Read more about Golden Hills Turquoise Jewelry in our dedicated blog on the subject.

A year ago, Gary picked up a small selection of Golden Hills turquoise. He handmade all four of these pieces right here at Stagecoach. He used his signature flower and leaf silver styling that he loves so much. This is a style that he first learned from the Native American jewelry artists that taught him silversmithing. It is a timeless look that we all really enjoy. Gary has depleted his supply of Golden Hills turquoise and we can only hope that he is able to find some more!

  1. Kingman Turquoise Butterfly Bracelet

The number 9 spot goes to one of the few pieces on this list that you may not have seen if you regularly follow our website and social media accounts (as a little teaser, number 3 is another that you have not seen). This is a large cuff bracelet with silver butterflies and Kingman turquoise. This is another piece that our very own Gary Glandon created. It has a lovely Kingman turquoise stone with an intricate matrix that gives this a lot of intrigue. Around this stone, you can see more of the leaf design that I discussed previously. The difference here is that these leaves sprout from the bottom and top, completely encircling the stone. Further down there is an engraved butterfly soldered to each side of the cuff. Gary cut and engraved these butterflies all by hand, a time-consuming process. The cuff itself has an engraved border along the outside. The inner portion was textured and oxidized to give it contrast.

Kingman Turquoise Butterfly Bracelet

This Kingman turquoise bracelet was a custom piece that a customer asked Gary to make. They spent some time figuring out exactly what this would look like. You can see some lettering on each side of the stone. These are initials that were meaningful to the customer. Gary stamped this into the silver and blackened them to make them stand out. The combination of a beautiful turquoise stone and fine silversmith techniques make this bracelet the number 9 top piece of jewelry of 2021.

  1. Multi-Textured Ring and Pendant

I debated between the ordering of the next two spots. It was difficult because Gary made both, and both involved interesting techniques that Gary had never used before. In fact, there are few artists at all who have made jewelry with these techniques. These next two pieces may be the most complex and technical pieces of jewelry on this list and a convincing argument could be made for them to be ranked higher. This goes to show how difficult it is to rank the best pieces of jewelry from an entire year.

Multi-Textured Kingman Turquoise Pendant by Gary Glandon

The piece that I picked for the number 8 spot on our list is Gary’s multi-textured turquoise pendant. This is another piece of jewelry featuring a beautiful piece of Kingman turquoise. This particular stone has a tight matrix with one deeper splash of blue at the bottom. These high-quality stones that Gary uses are not found in a lot of places.

You can get the full story behind this beautiful Multi-Textured Turquoise Jewelry right here.

The most interesting part of this pendant is the multi-textured border around the outside. This is eight different pieces of silver that Gary textured and soldered together. He used several different tools to create these textures, including specialty hammers designed for this purpose. These eight different sections were soldered over top of the silver backing. Since these are two layers of silver soldered together, there is a lot of silver in this pendant. The weight has a feeling of quality when holding this turquoise pendant in your hand.

Multi-Textured Turquoise Ring and Pendant

Gary made a similar turquoise ring to go along with this pendant. Together, they make a highly unique and distinctive set. When these pieces were finished, Gary proudly stated that he has not seen any other artists make something quite like this. This ring and pendant are one-of-a-kind creations designed and handmade here at Stagecoach. If you would like to read more about these pieces, be sure to give our dedicated post a read.

  1. Stone-On-Stone Lapis and Turquoise Pendant

The stone-on-stone lapis and turquoise pendant is another technical and highly unique piece that Gary made. It has a small turquoise stone set over top of a rectangular lapis lazuli stone. At the bottom, Gary added a textured silver bar, like the pieces discussed above. Compared to other jewelry on this list, this pendant appears remarkably simple and to a passerby, it is impossible to see the underlying complexity. Simplicity is part of the beauty behind this piece; its contemporary appearance masks the skillfulness that was required. This pendant is so clean that most would never know how difficult it was for Gary to make. Allow me to explain further.

Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise Pendant

When you set a single stone in silver the process is straightforward. Create a housing for the stone and solder that to silver backing. With enough practice, this can be done quickly and without much hassle. The process completely changes when you are trying to set a stone on another stone. Unlike silver, you cannot solder metal to a stone. For Gary to attach the turquoise stone to the lapis, he needed to use a different process. I don’t want to go too in-depth on how he accomplished this feat because I wish to preserve some of the intrigue behind this pendant. What I will say is that this was a challenge that required careful attention to detail. The challenge here has kept most other artists from attempting this technique. There are a handful of artists that do this on a regular basis, though their work tends to carry a high price tag. Mostly, this was a fun and ambitious technique that Gary wanted to take a stab at. The result was a pretty pendant, unlike any others that have been offered at Stagecoach before. Hopefully, he continues to explore this technique in the future.

If you would like to learn more about Gary's process behind this Lapis and Turquoise Pendant, visit our article.

  1. David Rosales Reversible Sonoran Turquoise Pendant

Unlike last year, we only have one piece on this list from David Rosales. The reason for this is purely on our side, not theirs. David Rosales jewelry is still as amazing and high-quality as ever. The only reason that there is less featured this year is that we made so much more jewelry ourselves in 2021. Due to the difficulty of getting quality Native American jewelry since the pandemic began, we have been making a lot more in-house. We still have plenty of beautiful David Rosales jewelry and I wanted to be sure to highlight one on this list.

This reversible David Rosales turquoise pendant was easily the most interesting piece that we got from them this past year. It is an artistic Yeibichai, a well-known Native American symbol. This Yeibichai has a more modern appearance than any I have seen before. It has long flowing curves with sharp points that make this pendant look like it may have been designed by Frank Lloyd Write.

Of course, we cannot forget about the beautiful sonoran gold turquoise that is inlaid in this pendant. The combination of green and yellow in this turquoise makes this quite striking. This sonoran turquoise inlay is only one side of the story, however. Turn the pendant over and you will find black jade inlaid with neat silverwork. This silverwork shows a night sky over tall mountains, along with other distinctive shapes. The wonderful thing about this pendant is that you can choose which side to wear. Both sides have a completely different color scheme that would go with diverse outfits. The turquoise side is bright and colorful while the black jade has a modern and less flashy feel. This pendant is unique in so many ways and deserves a spot on this list.

  1. Cut-Out Kingman Turquoise Necklace and Earring Set

For number five we have more phenomenal work from another Native American jewelry artist. This is a full necklace with a lovely Kingman turquoise stone set in the middle. There are matching cut-out silver earrings to go along with the necklace. Of all the pieces on this list, I imagine that these required the most work to make. Most of the surface of the necklace and earrings have intricate designs cut into silver. There are plenty of classic Southwestern patterns as well as a few easily identifiable shapes, such as waves and lizards. All this work is done with a tiny jeweler’s saw that undoubtedly required an enormous amount of time. As someone experienced cutting with one of these saws, my wrist and arm hurt just looking at this jewelry. The artist behind this work is a clear master at their trade.

Cut-Out Kingman Turquoise Necklace

I must also mention the Kingman turquoise stone that is set in the necklace. This is referred to as Kingman water web due to its complex blue matrix. I enjoy stones with matrices like this because they have a lot of character. The artist used a notched border around the stone which required, you guessed it, more sawing. A tremendous amount of thought and work went into creating this jewelry set and we were thrilled to be able to display it at Stagecoach. Our hats go off to the Native American artist who put so much into these!

  1. Nebraska Landscape Pendant

If the previous set of jewelry required the most effort to make, this one is the most offbeat piece on this list. This is also the first on the list that I created. I call this the Nebraska Landscape Pendant and it was inspired by the work of some other artists that we have seen. By using three different metal types and four layers total, we were able to create a prairie landscape that you might see in Nebraska. This pendant required a lot of planning and a variety of jewelry techniques to create.

Nebraska Landscape Pendant by Skylar Glandon

I started with a sterling silver background cut in the desired shape of the pendant. Next, I cut two copper shapes with curvature at the top to resemble rolling hills. These two pieces of copper come together to look like a river flowing through the hills. This river was challenging because the curves needed to give the impression of the river traveling off into the distance. We also engraved tiny trees toward the bottom as well as added some hammered textures into the copper hills. We created a sunrise with a piece of brass, which is more yellow in color than copper. This piece had to be cut with the same curvature as the copper so that the sun could be rising from behind the hills. We added some engraved sunrays and tiny silver dots to resemble stars. To finish this pendant, we added a sterling silver border around the outside that helps frame the image.

I had a lot of fun designing this pendant. It posed some unique challenges for Gary and me to solve, such as cutting everything to fit together perfectly. To avoid making a costly mistake, I found myself constantly checking my measurements and calculations before cutting. With the expense of these materials, especially silver, you want to avoid any blunders. The soldering process was a particular difficulty here as well. The tiny pieces tend to move during soldering. For instance, if one of the copper pieces shifted a millimeter or two in any direction, it would ruin the alignment of the hills. Challenges such as these can be a lot of fun but also frustrating. Fortunately, everything worked out well in this case.

  1. Egyptian Turquoise Scarab Necklace

This is the other piece of jewelry on this list that you have not seen before. That is because I made this for Susan, my mother, for Christmas. It is a scarab necklace with Egyptian turquoise. Allow me to provide a little backstory. When I was around ten years old my parents took me on an unforgettable trip to Egypt. Traveling to Egypt as a ten-year old kid from Nebraska was like stepping onto another planet. I have been to several other countries since that time, but this is the trip that I remember most. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. That trip left us all with a strong interest in Egyptian history.

The scarab was an important motif in ancient Egypt. This winged insect was believed to symbolize resurrection and protection from death. It was often carved into the sarcophagi of Pharaoh kings and queens. Even today, you see the scarab throughout Egypt as it has become a symbol of the vast and treasured history of this country.

A couple of years back, we met a turquoise miner who is in the Sinai region of Egypt. He has some beautiful stones with a deep blue coloring and dark matrix. This is the same turquoise that Egyptian queens wore in jewelry in ancient times. It is some of the oldest and most historic turquoises in the world. We have purchased some of these stones in the past that Gary has made jewelry with. About a week before Christmas, I had the idea to make Susan an Egyptian-themed necklace using this material.

Egyptian Turquoise Scarab Necklace by Skylar Glandon

This scarab necklace features two layers of sterling silver with engraved wings. I used textured detailing to create contrast between these two layers. Tiny silver bars were added at the top and bottom for the beetle’s legs. The silver circle between the top legs is meant to be the scarab holding the sun. I had a lot of fun designing and making this necklace and it is an area that I might explore further in the future. While not the most complex piece of jewelry on this list, it is, from my perspective, one of the most incomparable and special pieces. We focus much of our attention on Native American designs, so this was an interesting deviation. If you are curious, Susan really enjoys it!

  1. Sonoran Turquoise Star Bracelet

This is another piece of jewelry that I made last year. I remember the design just hit me one day while I was out. As soon as I was able, I grabbed a pencil and paper and started sketching this out. The idea was to create a bracelet with a patriotic American theme using the shape of a star as a base. Stars are not an uncommon shape in handmade jewelry but are normally stamped or engraved as a decoration. I have never seen a bracelet utilize a cut-out shape quite like this. This motif continues down the bracelet with sharp angles and cut-out points at the ends. I had two different ideas for the details on the silver. I decided to stick to a simpler design using an engraved border and texturing. My other idea was more radical and would have required a lot of extra thought to execute properly. This idea is still swirling around in my head, and I may experiment with this in the future. I am proud of this bracelet’s design and how it turned out. It is distinctive with a clean and polished appearance. I love it so much that I intend to create more jewelry in this style. As a side note, the lady who purchased this bracelet commented that it reminded her of Wonder Woman. That assessment sounded perfectly fine to me.

Turquoise Star Bracelet by Skylar Glandon

Besides its unusual design, this bracelet also has a pretty turquoise stone. It has a bright blue Sonoran Mountain Turquoise stone. Sonoran Mountain is the bluer variety of Sonoran Gold Turquoise. I often prefer the greener version, but this stone stuck out to me. Its color is bright and appealing with just a few brown flakes mixed in. I thought the color of this stone fit well with the American theme of this bracelet. I also needed a stone that was large enough to not be overshadowed by the bracelet’s design. Normally when we create jewelry the stone is the centerpiece with the silver design serving as a compliment. With such an unusual design, I needed a stone that would not feel dull and lost. This was the perfect piece of turquoise for this beautiful bracelet. I hope you enjoy this turquoise bracelet as much as I do!

Sonoran Turquoise Star Bracelet by Skylar Glandon

As with some of the other jewelry on this list, we have a dedicated blog article about this Turquoise Star Bracelet.

  1. Three-stone Kingman Turquoise Necklace

We have finally made it to the number one piece of jewelry from Stagecoach in 2021. This necklace with three gorgeous Kingman turquoise stones was handmade by Gary. These three stones are part of the reason this necklace took the top spot of the year. Their colors are really stunning. As a jeweler, you can find a broad range of quality and appearance in Kingman turquoise. This material is some of my favorite that is currently coming out of this mine. These stones have colors that shift from light to a deeper blue. The larger center stone has some of the matrices that you see in water web Kingman. However, all three of these stones have so much more character. They each have a variety of green and brown colors that are mixed in with the blues. Additionally, the two smaller stones are a near-perfect match, something that is difficult to find in turquoise like this. These Kingman turquoise stones are amazing and you do not see this quality of material often.

Three-Stone Kingman Turquoise Necklace by Gary Glandon

Gary used a bold setting around these turquoise stones that is fitting and not overpowering. He gave each section a border with a rounded silver bar. Each of the four sides has silver balls that break up this border. When he makes these individual sections, it is about the same amount of work as creating three entire pendants. He then connected each section together and added a sterling silver chain. A necklace like this requires a lot of time and effort to make, as well as three matching stones. It is for this reason that Gary does not make such a substantial necklace like this very often, perhaps once a year. That is why we are always excited when he makes one of these. Though he has made a few similar necklaces in the past, they are always quite different. Of course, if you are ever interested in having a necklace like this for yourself, be sure to let us know!

Congratulations, you have made it to the end of our complete list of our favorite jewelry from 2021. If I have left anything out, please let me know in the comments below! We are already working on new pieces for 2022 and I hope to put together an even better list next year. Be sure to check back often to see the newest jewelry that we have been working on. As always, thank you for your interest in what we do here at Stagecoach.

Skylar Glandon
Skylar Glandon


1 Response

S Baesler
S Baesler

August 06, 2022

Beautiful jewelry!!! I live in Florida but was born & raised in Nebraska. I usually get back once a year. I’ve been following your ads in the Nebraska Life magazine & have finally checked your website. I will definitely try to make a visit on my next return trip to Nebraska!

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