My name is Jeff DeMent. I am a DinÃ© (Navajo) jewelry designer and metalsmith living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My family is from the Two Grey Hills area of new Mexico. I grew up on a ranch in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri and attended Southeast Missouri University where I completed two Bachelor of Science degrees; Exercise Science and Recreation Management. I spent 16 years in the military performing combat operations, and anti-terrorism. Additionally I and trained military and law enforcement in combat ops, firearms & SWAT tactics, combatives, and other tactical operations. During this time, I partnered in starting a private company where we trained military and law enforcement personnel in close quarters combat, survival, land navigation and sniper/observer operations, and performed high profile contract security and executive protection duties, both in and outside the US. In 2011 I was injured in the line of duty and spent almost 3 years in a medical hold/recovery status before being medically discharged from the military in July 2014. After leaving the military I started working with turquoise and silver, learning traditional tufa casting, to reconnect with my culture and find peace.
I am often asked how I started Silversmithing. I jokingly say, 'I love shiny things,' or I mention going to galleries as a kid seeing Turquoise & Silver jewelry. The truth is, after my military combat experiences and being injured in the line of duty, Silversmithing gave me a new purpose and a reason to live. Silversmithing saved my life. I put my heart and soul into my work. I am Dine' (Navajo). My story is long. No matter where I go or what I do, I will never forget the hard lessons of my past. For me life has come full circle, from innocent childhood to military combat, death, destruction and violence, and now an opportunity to bring beauty and a sense of peace back into the world through traditional Navajo Silversmithing.
My work is completely hand-crafted using the traditional technique of Tufa Casting that dates back to the late 1800's. My original designs are hand carved into Tuff, a compressed volcanic ash, to create a mold. I pour molten silver to form each piece. After annealing, the silver is hand cut, filed, formed, fabricated, then all-natural high-grade turquoise is inlayed into a bezel. I use the Tufa molds only once, making each and every handmade piece a true one of a kind.