Native American Jewelry Masters: Jessie Monongye

Another Native American jewelry maker and  stone master is Jessie Monongye, a Navajo-Hopi artist whose name means "green lizard." He is clearly the modern master of  stone inlay, as is obvious from the photos here. His work captures the night sky, forming stars, planets, and exploding star energy, all stemming from his life on the Navajo reservation as a child. He loves using lapis because of its natural pyrite inclusions which create star-like dust in the designs. He also loves to incorporate opal because of its internal glow. 

His work tells the story of why so many people resonate to colored gems and the magic they generate when composed with thought. He sees the magic in the natural world and expresses it with stones, metal, and constant imagery drawn from his upbringing. 

As his work grew in desirability, Monongye was able to afford better tools. Using diamond-tip bits, he can cut the tiny bits of stone with precision and inlay them seamlessly onto the base. If you run your fingers over the surface, you cannot feel the join areas from one stone to another. It's as though they were painted on.

But we know different and we are in awe. 

1 comment

  • Loved your comments on Jessie Monongye’s work. So glad we were able to enjoy it together!

    Tamar Weiss

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