Although I live in close proximity to Navajo Nation, I don’t have detailed knowledge of many Navajo traditions and ceremonies so it was important to me do some research on the subject. I wanted to make sure my piece incorporated things that would be important to Haseya and her family. Among some of the things I learned was the significance of the gemstones that Haseya’s parents wanted included in the piece. Turquoise is believed to be the most powerful in bringing good fortune to the wearer. Garnet is supposed to imbue the wearer with purpose and the confidence and health needed to pursue their dreams. And peridot is believed to help the wearer achieve internal balance and peace.
Knowing that I wanted to incorporate at least one of each of the stone types, I settled on creating a pin that could also be worn as a pendant. In addition to providing a larger canvas for the stones, a brooch design is timeless and is the type of piece most often passed down from generation to generation. They tend to withstand time. I always like to bring a brooch with me when I travel, and with Haseya’s love for travel, I imagine it would be something that could accompany her as well.
The design for the piece was inspired by the totems that figure so much into Native American culture. At the center of the piece, I incorporated a bit of symbolism that is specific to the Navajo—the four sacred mountains in Navajo Nation that point out the cardinal directions. They’re represented by the peridots. The stones are accented with sterling silver and Fairmined 18k yellow gold granulation that is meant to represent corn pollen. In addition to being a main staple of Native American life, corn is often incorporated into many Navajo ceremonies. The pollen from the corn is dusted off the tassels and used in ceremonies as a blessing. I’ve kept the granulation intentionally random to mimic the way nature might spread the pollen.
Finally, I’ve added a patina to the sterling silver to not only help the gemstones pop but also because I like the idea of the piece looking like one with a bit of history to it. Haseya’s family and culture are clearly very important to her, and I think it would be meaningful for her to have something that pays tribute to her people’s long heritage.
Jennifer Dewey is the owner of J Dewey Designs in Ridgway, Colorado.