Since the 19th century, Meteor Crater has been a location of high interest. Located in the Arizona desert, the 570 feet deep crater has drawn many to its spectacular inverted topography. Arizona is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Vernon Haskie.
A curious youth, Haskie built his first jewelry piece at the age of nine after watching his parents, Leonard and Lillie, make “water bird designs” with inlay work.
“I took some of my father’s scrap silver and did a water bird design on it. I did some practice runs with the torch to learn soldering and I eventually soldered the silver with the water bird design onto another piece,” recalls the designer.
“I couldn’t wait to show my parents, but they did not believe I did it. So I had to go and get all of the scrap to show where I cut it out, and explain how I made it.”
Since then the self-taught Navajo silversmith has built an illustrious reputation, punctuated by multiple awards, as a highly skilled craftsman.
Haskie specializes in creating multi-dimensional designer jewelry fashioned from sterling silver, 14- and 22-karat gold, and large brightly colored inlaid gemstones.
Such items as his sterling silver cuff bracelets and gemstone pendants are imbued with character through bold outlines, engraved surfaces and a dose of spirituality.
“From a spiritual point of view, as an artist, I take materials form Mother Earth and build a jewelry item. I do become attached to the finished piece.
There is an intimacy with creating jewelry. I recall memories of setting certain stones and how I was feeling or thinking at that time,” says Haskie.
“The creation process is important as a jewelry item literally comes to life. A jewelry item is alive; it is made of materials from Mother Earth. It ultimately becomes a piece of the mind and spirit of the artist who made it.”
His work with sterling silver and gold beautifully display the inherent traits of both metals: sterling silver provides a subtle yet rustic setting for gemstones of coral, lapis, and opals while the gold adds a backlit glow to Lone Mountain Turquoise. It is like watching gemstones float in the alternate palms of the Moon and the Sun.
Of utmost importance to Haskie is that his art reflects a diversified image of Navajos, “I would like to give a positive image of the Navajo in my work. I want to create something with strong enough imagery where people take a positive message with them.
Positive art breaks down stereotypes, instills pride in our younger generation and encourages them to see they have a blessing in them.”
I could not find a personal website for Haskie, but a number of his items can be viewed at online store Southwestern Jewelry Collection.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Mediterranean Coral Navajo Earrings
Photo 2 (center): 14-Karat Gold Cuff Bracelet with Red Coral Stone and Coral Inlay
Photo 3 (bottom left): 22-Karat Gold Turquoise Butterfly Pendant