There is something about gold, silver and turquoise that people in the Southwest can't get enough of. This was the case once again in the People's Choice award for best of jewelry in the 16th annual Miniatures Show, which ended March 4 at the Millicent Rogers Museum. 1504 Millicent Rogers Road, north of El Prado.
Taos goldsmith David B. Anderson's "Zia Bolo" was one of more than 200 entries accepted in this year's very popular annual museum show. This is the fourth year Anderson has taken a best-of category in the Miniatures' 16-year history, including: best of jewelry 2011; best of show 2012; best of 3-D 2015; and now People's Choice best of jewelry in 2018.
"The turquoise is gem-stone quality," Anderson said in a phone interview about his latest award. "It's a really high-grade stone. The sterling silver is from a large silver sheet. I used a rolling mill to impart a texture to the silver; the 18-karat gold parts of the Zia were sand-cast gold elements using molten gold. It's absolutely one of a kind."
Notable too, are the tips of the leather bolo tie, which terminate in four circular pieces of the same intricate turquoise. He said it was the stone itself that spoke to him while he was questing for an impressive piece for the museum's show.
"I like to make something extra special for the miniature show because it's a really special show to participate in. I want to make something to particularly show my talents, especially because of my grandfather (Claude J.K. Anderson), who built that house that now houses the museum, and who later donated it" to be used for the museum. "I have a lot of specific ties to that building, and I want to honor that."
Born and raised in Taos, like most artists of Taos, Anderson is inspired by nature and life and by modern art.
"Art is a vehicle for expressing emotions and ideas in a personal and creative manner," he says in his artist statement, emphasizing how the techniques and uniqueness of metallurgy are part and parcel of his inspiration.
In that regard, one of Anderson's specialties is "mokume gane," an intensive Japanese metalworking technique of mixed-metal layering.
Mokume is the Japanese word for "wood grain" or "wood eye," and gane is the Japanese word for "metal," he explains on his website. The layered metal technique was originated by Denbei Shoami (1651-1728) to be used in sword guards or tsuba. Anderson's personal interest in swords and sword cultures naturally led to working mokume gane into his metalsmithing repertoire.
Anderson partners in life and art with his wife Gail Golden, also an award-winning and bestselling jeweler. The couple lives and creates art in their studio gallery in Arroyo Seco, a bit south of the village of the same name.
One of the couple's newest specialties is repurposing other people's jewelry and making new pieces out of older gem settings that no longer work for a personal taste or lifestyle. Customers typically bring diamonds from highly valued bequeathed rings that the wearer simply won't wear in the current settings.
It makes a whole lot more sense to rework family jewels than to sell them for pennies on the dollar to gem stone wholesalers, Anderson says, "and we can make it into something special," such as earrings, pendants, bracelets and more.
Recently, he and Golden reworked a cherished marquee diamond ring that no longer fit over a customer's larger arthritic knuckle and added diamonds from a Tiffany watch she no longer used to widen the ring's profile. Plus, they added an expandable "keeper" mechanism that allowed the refashioned ring to be "fitted" by the wearer onto the smaller ring-finger circumference, creating what both the jewelers and the customer now fondly call, the "ring of her dreams."
Besides gold, silver, diamonds and other gemstones, the pair are also working in fresh water and Tahitian baroque pearls.
Golden is working 24/7 to stock Raiford Gallery in Roswell, Georgia, and her work is locally on display at Mesa's Edge on Taos Plaza and Taos Ski Valley. Anderson has work in the Millicent Rogers Museum Shop, and they both show their work at Tresa Vorenberg Goldsmiths in Santa Fe. Their jewelry is on permanent display for sale at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
They also have jewelry for sale at their studio showroom by appointment. Visit their websites at davidbandersongoldsmith.com and gailgoldenjewelry.com or call (575) 770-0397.