Santo Domingo Jewelry
Without a doubt, Santa Domingo lapidary artist Ray Lovato is a jokester and trickster. He is a funny guy, but when it comes to creating strands of beautiful beads, Ray is extraordinarily serious. We consider Ray the best of the old style, Native American lapidary artists. He retains the philosophy of maintaining meticulous craftsmanship and using high quality materials. As with this splendid strand of high-grade natural Royston turquoise beads, his attention to detail is distinctly obvious. Whether you are listening to Ray's wisecracks, witnessing his practical jokes or handling a length of his beads, a smile and laugh of delight will certainly come to you. After all, that is what Ray is about.
The Royston Mining District lies on the Nye-Esmerelda County line, about 24 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada. In this area, turquoise mines are scattered for nearly a mile along a shallow canyon. Because it involves many small producers, the Royston district is one of the better-known turquoise mining areas in Nevada. Three of the district's more important turquoise mines are the Royal Blue, Bunker Hill and the Oscar Wehrend.
The Royal Blue mine constitutes the main turquoise workings in the district. This turquoise shows as fine-grained, altered porphyry, which is soft in places, although much of it has been hardened by silification. The turquoise is found principally in veinlets and seams, with minor lenses and nodules. The veinlets and lenses range from a fraction of an inch to more than an inch in thickness. Masses of turquoise, filling brecciated matrix, have, however, been found more than five inches thick. Lens shaped pieces of turquoise weighing an ounce or two are not uncommon, and one piece weighing nearly a pound and a half were found.
Royston turquoise ranges in color from dark and pale blue to various shades of green. Some of the dark blue turquoise has a slightly greenish cast, and some is nearly pure blue in color. The dark blue turquoise and that with a greenish cast are very fine grained and hard; the lighter colored ore is generally softer. The best turquoise is often found in limonite stained rock, and the pale blue, softer turquoise is found in light colored, softer porphyry. The quality of the best pure blue stones from the Royal Blue is equal to that found in any American mine and the matrix is especially fine.
The hard turquoise veins and nuggets are coated with a crust or stain of dark to light shading, and at times include a yellow limonite. This stain penetrates the turquoise along seams and branching cracks, producing attractive patterns and contrasts of color. Some large specimens have consisted of a patchwork of dark blue with a slightly greenish tint, marked in places with a very dark red-brown matrix. These cut gems can exhibit exceedingly wide variations of shading, and the matrix contrasts are often striking. Great spider webbing in green or blue nuggets and unusual scenic turquoise pieces are a hallmark of Royston
Two prospectors named Workman and Davis, who later sold the mine to William Petry for $3,000.00, discovered the mine in 1902. Petry improved the mine to the point of assuring its production, and, in 1907, sold it to The Himalaya Mining Co., which was owned by Julius Tannenbaum of Los Angeles and New York. Tannenbaum owned a number of mines in Nevada and California. During 1908 and 1909, the property was systematically and actively worked under the directions of Julius Goldsmith, Tanenbaum's son-in-law. Tannenbaum died suddenly about 1910, and Goldsmith hurried east to settle the estate. Shortly afterwards, he ordered operations abandoned and about 1911 sold the mine back to Petry. Petry and W. I. Miller, who had been Petry's mine boss, operated the mine for a time, and then leased it to Lee Hand and Bert Kopenhaver. Hand and Kopenhaver worked the mine dumps for a time, and then bought the mine outright from Petry. Kopenhaver later sold his share to Charley Bona. Hand and Bona worked the mine periodically, and in 1936 Bona sold his interest to Ted Johnson. In 1940 Johnson sold his share to Lee Hand.
The Otteson family now works the mine. The Otteson story began in 1944 with Lynn Otteson. Lynn brought his family to Nevada to mine turquoise and leased his first Royston claim from Lee Hand. At that time, Hand owned approximately 30 claims in the Royston district. The Otteson family has owned or leased turquoise claims in this district for the past 60 years. The Royal Blue mine has been one of the major turquoise producers in the state of Nevada. For some time, the mine produced as much as 1,250 pounds of turquoise a month, and several times has exceeded that amount.
Petry, at the time he sold the mine to Hand and Kopenhaver, declared that the Royal Blue had produced more gem quality turquoise than any mine in the United States. He placed the value of cut stones taken from the mine at more than $5 million. There is no adequate estimate of the value of gems produced from the mine in the years since that time.
The Bunker Hill is about half a mile north of The Royal Blue. In this mine, turquoise occurs in altered quartzite and ranges from royal blue to greenish blue with brown with white matrix. Turquoise is mainly in the form of slabs from 1/16 of an inch to a full inch thick. The mine was discovered in 1927 by Roy Palfreyman and Bert Kopenhaver, and was originally opened as a small shaft about 20 feet deep. As the turquoise was unearthed, the shaft was widened along the seam into a long stope, which was eventually opened into a glory hole. Polfreyman and Kopenhaver took out about $30,000 worth of turquoise, then sold to the owners of the Royal Blue mine, who produced about $75,000 worth of material. The mine eventually was incorporated into the Royal Blue group of claims.
The Oscar Wehrend mine, in the Royston district, is about 1/3 of a mile from the main workings of the Royal Blue. The turquoise is in highly altered rocks, where it forms seams, coatings and nodules as large as 2 inches thick. It is mostly soft, pale, and not of very good quality. Its color and hardness can, however, be improved by artificial means. Oscar Wehrend discovered the deposit in 1909, but Lee Hand conducted much of the work. Production from the property has been small.
The Royston Mine was originally worked as a silver mine in the late 1800s, Large deposits of high quality turquoise led Tiffany's of New York to incorporate quality green and blue turquoise stones from the Royston Hills into their jewelry lines prior to WWII. There was a brief surge of Royston turquoise production in the 1970s, and the Royston district is still producing limited amounts of high quality turquoise. The turquoise currently being produced from the Royston district is mined by Dean and Danny Otteson, and is coming from the Royal Royston claim.
Ray never travels alone, there is always a large assemblage of family around him, and to him everyone seems to be family. We suspect that when Ray is loading the car for a selling trip, anyone in the village wanting or needing a vacation shows up at his door with their bags packed. We are reasonably sure that everyone is welcome. The most common passengers are Ray's daughter and her son River. We have attempted to barter for River from time to time, but have yet to strike a deal. Ray is extremely fond of him, and Kira and Grange (Steve's red-headed offspring) may both be on their way to Santa Domingo if River remains.
Ray's vehicles are mostly of the well used variety, and it doesn't seem to bother him that he may be walking across the vast, open spaces of the desert Southwest at any moment if the car collapses. Knowing Ray, it wouldn't take him long to scrounge up a ride for the whole troupe. In fact, over the twenty-five years we have known Ray, there have been many stories which include long walks. The stories always end with the car being patched up and the selling trip continuing.
The creative side of this outgoing, gregarious Puebloan is as wonderful as his humorous side. Ray has won more awards for his art than any other Santa Domingo artist we know. This is saying a great deal, since we have been selling Indian art since 1969, when we were ten and eleven respectively. When the topic of high quality, natural turquoise bead necklaces and earrings is brought up, Ray Lovato is always mentioned. He has won awards at such prestigious shows as the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Gallup Ceremonials and the Eight Northern Pueblos. Very few of his counterparts use the quality of materials and pay attention to the detail the way Ray does.
The kicker in our eyes, and greatest reason for Ray's marketing success, is that when he arrives at our door he first presents gifts. There are always presents of homemade tamales, traditional bread or blue corn cookies. We are especially susceptible to the blue corn cookies, and our stomachs always swell when they arrive. We love them, we fight over them as a matter of fact. This gentle soul with laughing eyes sits back and lets his generous bounty do it's intended work. In addition to the food, Ray also brings his carefully crafted masterworks to entice us. Ray Lovato is the master of his world, a master craftsman, master baker, master of humor and master in the art of salesmanship. "Hurry back Ray - we’re out of cookies!"
The clear, deep, robins-egg-blue turquoise they call male, and the stone of a greenish hue they call female. Pg. 230
Whiteshell [yo lgai] designates the 'white from which beads are made.' It is one of the many examples in Navaho where the same word means a part or a whole, the material or the object manufactured from it. Whiteshell may refer to the thin, flat, white shell beads greatly treasured by the Navaho and often incorrectly called wampum by the whites. Formerly, the beads were made of a seashell, doubtless imported through trade from the west coast, probably from the Gulf of California.
According tla h's creation story, the spirit of whiteshell was placed inside Moon, which was composed of ice; the spirit of turquoise was put into Sun, that of Abalone into Black Wind, that of redstone into Yellow Wind. JS, speaking of the Shooting Chant, said Moon's house was whiteshell.
An indispensable requirement of a chant is the basket; at least one is believed to represent whiteshell. All the precious stones are mythical basket materials. Frequently the basket is of one stone with a contrasting rim - whiteshell rimmed with turquoise or the reverse; abalone rimmed with redstone or the reverse, jet with an abalone rim or the reverse. Bowls, though not as common as baskets, may be deific properties. White Body of the fourth world carried a bowl of whiteshell.
A song intoned at the preparation of the War Ceremony rattlestick refers to Child-of-the-water's queue as whiteshell.
Turquoise [do tliji], 'the-particular-one-which-is-blue,' may be the general collective term for all the precious stones, wealth, or mixed offerings. Good fortune is attributed to the stone. A few of the most unusual references to turquoise are as follows:
Sun gave one of his wonderful children a pair of turquoise earstrings to enable him to win at gambling.
The hair of a remarkable girl, desired by many suitors, was covered with images of coyote and birds of different kinds, all of turquoise; and she possessed a huge disk of turquoise.
Four rattles of buffalo hide are important equipment in the Shooting Chant. One explanation says they symbolize Big Snakes, another that they represent Sun's turquoise rattles.
Sun's son smoked a turquoise pipe, as did Frog.
Perhaps the most unusual allusion is that to First Woman, who, in the first world, was intrigued by a distant fire. When she got to it she found a man, who said, "Your fire is rock crystal; mine is turquoise." This identification was cited as a reason why the two should live together.
The Twins' bows and arrows are sometimes said to be of turquoise.
The reference to turquoise as symbolizing green vegetation in Coyote's first model of the world is interesting.
Changing Woman's home had a turquoise door, and four footprints of turquoise led to a turquoise room. Black Sky Man pulled her up with a cane of turquoise and she became a degree younger than she had been when the Sky People came to her. The cane corresponded with one she gave her wandering people with which they struck the desert and brought forth water.
A small but perfect turquoise bead and an olivella shell tied on a string make the bead token of the Shooting and Hail chants. Sun may be identified with whiteshell or with turquoise.
Abalone [di tcili] is 'the-particular-one-that-is-iridescent, the-one-whose-various-colors-scintillate'; the name probably derives from the stem -tcil, meaning 'tremble.' Abalone is associated with yellow and with Black Wind, whose house, according to JS. was of abalone.
Abalone was offered to Blue Crane to induce him to sing over Holy Man, who had become ill and weak after his many wanderings.
Jet [ba cdjini] is the black substance found in large deposits in the Southwest. A soft cannel coal with a structure that lends itself readily to carving, it takes a beautiful polish. Although jet is the jewel representing black, it is mentioned less frequently than the other jewels.
When the domesticated quadrupeds were brought into existence, a basket of jet edged with abalone and one of abalone rimmed with jet were mentioned. Many birds are now black because they ate of the eggs in the jet basket. The jewel symbol of the northern mountain [dibentsah] is jet.
At the time abalone was offered Blue Heron for his supernatural advice, a piece of jet was offered to a bird called tsih.
When Monster Slayer was knocked out for having drawn the figure of a person on the bull-roarer, Big Fly instructed him to make the offering for restoration by stringing pieces of jet as tassels of grass.
Native redstone [tseltci'] contains ferric coloring matter ranging from dull red to dark pink, often streaked with white. Some of it is probably carnelian. Coral, introduced by the Spanish, has become a substitute, even being called redstone. Examples of the role played by redstone have occurred in the discussion of red; others are the following:
After testing his sons, Sun led them to the edge of the world. There they saw sixteen poles extending from earth to sky - four of whiteshell, four of turquoise, four of abalone, and four of redstone. Sun asked them to choose which they would ascend on; Wind whispered that they should choose the red since they had come seeking war.
All jewels are closely associated with Sun's house, which they compose. Opposite it were five mountains - redstone, glittering, abalone, whiteshell, and turquoise - Sun's mountains, all harmless.
The rattles with which Sun tried to destroy his sons are mentioned in the order: turquoise, whiteshell, abalone, redstone.
Yellow Wind's house was of redstone [JS].
Among the canes furnished Earth People by Changing Woman was one of redstone.
It is doubtful that agate [no lyini] should be included among the precious stones. If we do, to be consistent we should include the other kinds of ceremonial flint, for agate belongs more properly with them than with precious stones. The following will explain the connection between flints and precious stones:
When Sun was convinced that The Twins were really his children, he placed a small agate man inside the body of Monster Slayer to identify him with Sun and make him invincible. A miniature man of turquoise became Child-of-the-water's corresponding symbol.
The stones of the sweathouse were of agate when Sun exposed his sons to the heat test; it was expected to destroy them. Although it exploded, the agate did not destroy The Twins because Talking God had dug a small hole into which they crawled, and had covered it with four white shells. When the test was over, the white shells turned into redstone, abalone, turquoise, and whiteshell.
An agate arrowpoint forms a part of the head bundle of some ceremonies. Fastened to the hair of a patient in the War Ceremony, it represents the flint points that fell from the breast of Big Monster when he was conquered.
Rock Crystal [tseya'tindi ni, nto li, tseso'] is usually not mentioned among the precious stones, but has many ceremonial usages. tseya'tindi ni means 'stone-through-which-light-beams'; nto li means 'the-particular-one-which-is-clear, -translucent.' In many rites it symbolizes fire, especially in the symbolical lighting of the prayersticks, which may contain tobacco. tseso', 'rock-star,' may mean glass as well as crystal.
A crystal was put inside the dark cloud in which Scavenger was enveloped to furnish him light.
At creation a rock crystal was put into the mouth of each person so that everything he said would come true, a probable reason why a crystal is part of many pollen bags, especially the personal ones carried for safety; the pollen represents well-being, the crystal the prayer - that is, the word that makes the prayer come true.
The glass cup holding the chant lotion of the Shooting Chant is a substitute for crystal.
Changing Woman had binoculars of rock crystal.
The line of crystal on Coyote's model of the world represented ice, the only association between crystal and ice I have found.
The basket for the emetic in the first War Ceremony was of crystal.
MIXED JEWELS, the tiny fragments of precious stones accompanying the prayersticks, often indicate that the reed or plant material of which they consist stands for the jewels. Similarly, the feathered wands of the Shooting Chant are substitutes for Sun's jewel arrows, as is the rattlestick of the War Ceremony. Sun's jewel arrows represent the Sun-Wind combination - turquoise for Sun, whiteshell for Moon, abalone for Black Wind, redstone for Yellow Wind; in the Night Chant, the jewels represent the Day Skies.
When the pot drum was prepared for the War Ceremony, the jewels stood for the 'floor of the drum's house,' into which the sounds were pounded.