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Ernest Benally

Inlaid Bead Necklace

Navajo Nation


POG 116

The jewelry I create is all handmade. I use sterling silver and 14kt or 18kt gold. I use natural gem stones like turquoise, lapis, corals, jet, etc and sea shells like spiny oyster, mother of pearl, clam shells, etc. I cut and shape all pieces for my lapidary work and polish them. I use dental tools to drill into they stones/shells to create circular accent pieces and I also handsaw into sea shells and black jet created a pattern that I’ll inlay with other stones to make a picture within the jet or shell. Some silver or gold I will stamp created different patterns on the sheet which I’ll eventually oxidize black to the pattern will be seen. Each piece is eventually buffed or polished using a machine and sapphire powder for the lapidary work.