Dragonfly Coral Necklace
Dragonfly Coral Necklace handmade by Karen & Lee Charley. This remarkable cuff features brilliant red Mediterranean coral set in 18k gold. The necklace measures 23″L. Each dragonfly measure 2-3/4″.
History of Coral
Red coral (Corallium Rubrum) comes from certain areas, such as the Mediterranean, where the specific water temperature and conditions allow coral to thrive. Coral is a hardened tube or branch. Only about 10% of coral is considered jewelry quality. Although coral has been used by Stone Age peoples as long as 30,000 years ago to decorate sepulchers (burial vaults), Native American artists have only used coral for the last 600 years.
When Europeans arrived in the New World, they brought with them “blood coral” from the waters of Spain and Italy.
Santo Domingo peoples first used coral in necklaces, as wampum (trade beads). The Hopi and Zuni strung coral beads alternating with other beads such as jet, turquoise and spiny oyster for dances and ceremonies.
Native American Artists: Karen & Lee Charley
Son of a silversmith, Lee Charley lives on the eastern edge of the Navajo land. Lee was born May 13, 1968 and raised in Thoreau, New Mexico where he still resides with his wife, Karen and their children. Karen works with Lee in jewelry-making. She is Calvin Martinez’s younger sister. Another well-known silversmith.
Lee was taught the art of silversmithing by his mother, Nellie Charley, in 1984 when he started helping her in her shop. Nine years later Lee ventured out on his own and began making jewelry. He has been an active silversmith since 1985.
He has a distinctive style of combining silver, stamping and shadowbox-set stones. Lee is especially known for his graceful dragonfly pin/pendants and necklaces. Butterflies are also favored subject. Usually, the silver or gold has been brushed, for an antique look. Instead of large stones, he prefers a series of small round stones.