Mother-of-Pearl Inlay Necklace
Vintage Sterling Silver, Jet, Shell and Mother-of-Pearl Inlay Double Strand Necklace. This stunning necklace features a double strand of Jet and clam shell heishi beads with stamped silver horizontal barrels stabilizing the two graduated strands. The centerpiece is the teardrop Mother-of-Pearl inlay pendant. It measures 29.5 inches and has a hook and eye closure.
Heishi (from the Santo Domingo word meaning “shell”) traditionally referred to necklace shell beads. Today, however, it describes tiny, handmade beads of any material. The Santo Domingo Pueblo carvers are the most proficient heishi producers. To make the minuscule beads, the material (shell, stone, or coral) is sliced into strips, and then cut into small squares, after which holes are drilled through the center. Strung together, the rough squares are shaped and smoothed by holding the string against a turning stone wheel. In the process, 60 – 70% of the original material is lost.