I have been an accomplished Jeweler now for over 38 years. I work in Gold and/or Sterling Silver, however, Silver is the precious metal of my choice to work in. I like using colorful gemstones in my Jewelry and enjoy creating new designs incorporating the gemstones within the design. Most of my Jewelry is created from Silver sheet and different shaped Silver wire such as round, half-round, triangular and square. I also hand stamp, engrave and tool the Silver in many different ways to create the designs that are unique to myself.
I have always been fond of Turquoise as I grew up in the Southwest and was introduced to it when I was a child. I have collected high quality Turquoise and Turquoise Jewelry for over 40 years now and have compiled a fabulous collection of rare American Turquoise that is no longer available. I have personally mined a good share of my Turquoise collection with the owners of the mines they came from.
I have made a tremendous amount of Silver Jewelry and have have had several production shops as well making specialty Jewelry for large entities. For about two years my company produced over 23,000 pieces of Silver Jewelry for the Zippo Lighter Company of Tokyo, Japan. I have made Silver and Gold Jewelry for many Movie Stars, Music Celebrities, Sports Hero's and I have made Silver Jewelry for many Department Stores, Mail Order Catalogs, Corporations, National Parks and others.
I have been a Southwestern Jeweler for most of my life now and I enjoy the trade very much. I am capable of creating most any type of Jewelry and am also capable of producing any quantities if I choose to do so. At this point my preferred routine is to make one piece of quality Silver Jewelry at a time and put it up on the Internet for sale. I like this medium and business format as I am able to work uninterruptedly and am able to accomplish beautiful Jewelry that I am proud of.
Below are some examples of my work and at the bottom of the page is a little background about my life.
Background on John Hartman - White man and Turquoise Jewelry
To the left is a Kodiak Bear Claw Necklace that I made. This huge Bear Claw Necklace was made with Stormy Mountain Turquoise that was mined by myself, my wife Estell and Cutler Edgar who was the owner of the mine in 1973. This is a necklace much like the ones I made in the 1970's, it has about 400 carats of spectacular Stormy Mountain Turquoise set in a complimentary Sterling Silver masculine design.
To the right is a is a Sterling Silver Gemstone Necklace. It has blue Royston Turquoise, Sugilite, Spiny Oyster shell and Gaspeite gemstones in a beautiful Victorian Silver design. I have been designing a different type of filigree work that I consider a Victorian style. I started with the scroll engravings on U.S. currency and designed high relief silver work that lends itself to Silver Jewelry design. As you look at my Jewelry you will notice that I use a lot of dimensional design and often I have an antique look about my pieces, I call this my Victorian Silver design.
To the left is a 14 ky Gold Mens Ring in a lost wax design. It features a spectacular Bisbee Blue Turquoise Stone with Burmese Rubies on each side of the ring. You can see different angles of this ring on its presentation page. This ring was made by using a Jewelers hot wax pen to apply layer upon layer of molten wax to create the design. It is an unique way to design Jewelry and is also quite artistic, each piece is unique to itself as I form the wax design around a free form gemstone. Once the wax model is made, I pour Jewelers investment (like plaster of paris) around the model and put the flask in a burnout oven to remove the wax which leaves a cavity. I then heat the Silver or Gold to a molten state and using a vacuum casting machine, I pour the molten metal into the void that was once the original wax pattern. This is quite a lengthy process, but the results are beautiful.
To the right is a classic style Mens Turquoise Ring in a combination of Silver and Gold with an outstanding spiderweb Turquoise gemstone from the Blue Wind Turquoise Mine that was in Lander County Nevada. In the 70's, I was very fortunate in buying a large collection of this wonderful spiderweb Turquoise from Dick Edgar. Dick and his associates located this Turquoise deposit which was less then two miles from the Lander Blue Turquoise deposit, Tim King and myself we the lucky ones Dick first offered it to. Dick thought he was going to have a lot of Turquoise from this mine and sold his first major find to us, however, like the Lander Blue Mine, it was a small deposit of Turquoise and it played out quickly. Dick got a little over 100 lbs out of this deposit and we got most of it. You can see different angles of this Blue Wind Mens Ring on its presentation page.
To the left is a Victorian Silver Bracelet set with lime Turquoise and Sugilite. This bracelet has dimensional Silver work with chasing, beading and carved Sterling Silver applaque It is an "A" symmetrical type cuff bracelet made to be an elaborate woman's Silver Bracelet. I make many a-symmetrical type cuff bracelet as they have been popular here in the Southwest for well over a hundred years.
To the right is another Victorian styled bracelet made in Sterling Silver. In this photo you can see my high relief Victorian filigree work that resembles the scroll engravings on a dollar bill. I overlay different levels of Silver and then hand carve, grind, stamp, engrave and contour the Silver into specific shapes to create my designs. This Silver Cuff Bracelet is unique in that it has a hand made Bracelet frame overlayed with several gemstones accented with many different types of Silver work. The center stone is Royston Turquoise that I personally mined and cut and the side gemstones are Sugilite that I also hand cut. This Victorian-Southwestern Styled Cuff Bracelet was completely artisan handcrafted by myself from the rough rock and Silver to the finished product.
To the left is a Victorian styled filigree Sterling Silver woman's Ring with Morenci Turquoise from Arizona. As you can see, my Victorian Silver work is quite different and unusual from most Turquoise Jewelry you see coming out of the Southwest. The Turquoise Gemstones that I use are superior to the mass majority of those you find in the open marketplace, I use rare quality Turquoise that is very hard to come by. I then create one-of-a-kind Sterling Silver pieces that are not production type Turquoise Jewelry. This is high quality Turquoise Jewelry with exception collectors quality Turquoise gemstones, hand cut in our stone cutting shop here in Durango, Colorado USA.
To the right is a Victorian Silver Ring with Gaspeite, Sugilite and Spiny Oyster Shell Gemstones accented with Sterling Silver filigree work. Again, I started by hand cutting all of the gemstones, then I lay them out to imagine the design I would do to create the ring. I made the Silver designs and fit them around the stones to create the look I was after in the ring. Next, I made the ring shank by stamping a sunburst design into heavy Silver sheet and then sawed the sheet out into the shape I wanted to complete the ring shank. I then Silver soldered all of the components together to complete the ring. Now, this is handmade in the USA!
To the left is a marvelous Royston Turquoise Bracelet made in the lost wax style. As in the description above only this is a lot more work as it is a larger piece. This Bracelet includes a very unusual cut piece of old Tonopah Royston Turquoise accented with two Sugilite Gemstones. The Gemstones are extenuated by the very dimensional Silver work.
To the right is a Silver Gemstone Necklace that focuses on multi type of gemstones including Royston Turquoise, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, Sugilite, Rhodocrosite, Sugilite and other gemstones. I do not make a lot of lost wax bracelets, however, when I do I usually take the time to make something way out of the ordinary.
To the left is a Victorian styled Sterling Silver Turquoise Pendant. I began by cutting a boulder style Turquoise cabochon from a Royston Turquoise Rock I mined from the Royston Turquoise Mine several years ago. This is 100% natural Turquoise as it comes out of the ground in its host rock that it was formed in millions of years ago. I then designed sculpted, stamped, engraved and chased the Sterling Silver filigree ornaments to overlay onto a Silver plate around the gemstone to create the Pendant design. This is a one-of-a-kind Pendant that will never be repeated.
To the right is an unusual Sterling Silver and Turquoise Pendant accented with Colorado Gold Nuggets. The Turquoise gemstone is from the Kingman Turquoise Mine located in Arizona. I hand cut the stone from rough Kingman Turquoise and them created this unique Pendant to accommodate this beautiful Turquoise specimen.
To the left is a beautiful pair of bezel set Royston Ribbon Turquoise Earrings. I mined the Royston Turquoise, cut the stones and then mounted them in a simple setting that is very popular for me. This pair of earrings is all about the fabulous gemstones that are very rare in this quality. Royston Ribbon Turquoise is very popular but this coloration is fabulous.
To the right is a pair of Rhodocrosite and Sugilite Earrings set in Sterling Silver. This is another pair of Earrings that the focus in on the gemstones, I just put Silver bezels accented with Silver raindrops to create this pair of Earrings. I also cut these gemstones.
As a child, I started working for my dad when I was eight years old cleaning is machines as my dad was a precision machinist of the highest caliber. By the age of 18 I had become a journeyman machinist myself making missile sites and parts for Los Alamos and Lawrence Radiation Laboratories. When we moved on to 48" stainless steel flanges for the Alaskan Pipeline I moved on. That is when I took up Silversmithing.
When I was going to school I had a buddy named Steve who was a Taos Indian. Steve always had a bunch of Turquoise Jewelry, he gave Estell (my wife, then girlfriend) and several pieces of Turquoise Indian Jewelry and I also bought other Turquoise Jewelry for Estell from time to time as he showed me his new pieces. Steve told us that the Turquoise would give us good luck and happiness in our life.
I was twenty years old when I decided I wanted to make Silver Jewelry and it came naturally to me due to my past experience in machining. It just seemed everything went my way and everyone wanted to help me become a Jeweler. It began immediately as Estell (my wife) and I rented a little cottage in the back yard of the landlords home. About a month after we moved in, I was in the front room of the cottage pounding on a Silver Ingot that I had just poured from molten Silver. Cecil, (my landlord), came up to the door and said "John, what are you doing in there?", I said, "I am trying to learn how to make Silver Jewelry", Cecil said, "Well, I'll be dammed, I just retired from being a life long Jeweler". Well, Cecil proceeded in teaching me how to make Jewelry every afternoon for the next six months. We became very good friends and drinking buddies - Cecil ended up giving me all of his Jewelry making tools. At the same time, I went to a rock shop down the road and they seemed to take me in. They taught me how to cut gemstones and as I liked Turquoise they gave me a whole bunch of rough material which I continued to cut for my Jewelry.
In 1974, Estell and I were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico - we decided to make Silver Jewelry with Turquoise and other gemstones full-time. We went down to Old Town and found The Turquoise Lady - Catherine Harris, the owner liked our Jewelry and began buying Jewelry from us every week. Estell and I worked at home every day building up an inventory for our collection. By the end of the winter, we had built a major selection of Silver Jewelry and set out on a major selling trip. We went north through Durango, up through all of the major tourist areas of Colorado, then Wyoming, Montana, the Yellowstone area and to the Black Hills country. We did very well with our Jewelry and even came back to Albuquerque to buy additional Native American Turquoise Jewelry to have a full line as we did the same route two times that summer.
When we were up in Kalispel, Montana, we stopped into a Taxidermist and ended up trading Turquoise Jewelry for about 10,000 Bear Claws - unbelievable, the Taxidermist talked us into making Bear Claw Jewelry with Turquoise. Well, we did and it was a real hit for us. We were driving down Central in Albuquerque and stopped in Little Bert Kings Jewelry Company, Tim King, the owner, took a liking to Estell and I and ended up contracting us to make an unbelievable amount of Bear Claw Jewelry for him and his associates. Tim taught us a lot about Turquoise and Turquoise Jewelry and built a fantastic market for our Jewelry, he sold our Bear Claw Jewelry to Movie Stars, Football Stars, Country Music Stars and so on. We must have made over eight thousand bear claws into Jewelry over a two year period as we set up a stone cutting shop and hired other Silversmiths to produce a lot of Jewelry for us as well.
We moved from Albuquerque in 1975 to Durango, Colorado. I took a break from making Jewelry, while Estell continued, and built our own Trading Post just west of Durango. Our logic was to sell our Jewelry to the public for retail so we could develop our own market for our Jewelry and not have to go out on the road selling it. We were very fortunate as our plan worked and we have now been in business since 1976 in the Trading Post that I built, almost single handedly.
We have lived a good life here, we have two wonderful children, Dillon and Crystal and now Dillon has married a wonderful young lady named Nattarika. We all live in a sort of compound here as we own about six acres of land with three homes as well as our Trading Post. Today, our whole family works in the Trading Post and in the Jewelry business, Dillon, Nattarika and Crystal all make Jewelry. It's Great!
We have high hopes for the future and with the luck from Turquoise, I would bet my family will continue in this business.
Silversmithing in the Southwest began in the 1860's when the Spaniards came up from Mexico through the Southwest in search of Silver and Gold. A Navajo Blacksmith name Atisidi Sani learned the art of Silversmithing from the Spaniards and spread the craft to Native Americans throughout the Southwest. Anglo Americans came to the Southwest and settled in townships around the Navajo Indian Reservation beginning about 1880. The Anglo's worked with the Native Americans to develop Indian Jewelry to a state where it was marketable to the American public. Soon, the Anglo's built Trading Posts to develop more trade with the Natives and ultimately assisted them in developing a giant market for Turquoise Jewelry. By the 1920's, Native American Indians of the Southwest and the Anglo's worked side by side in producing a tremendous amount of Silver and Turquoise Jewelry and in general, it was all called Indian Jewelry.
The Anglo's started and maintained the mass production of Turquoise Jewelry by putting in Jewelry manufacturing shops throughout the Southwest, beginning around 1920. They produced the designs and hired Navajos, as well as Anglo's and Hispanic people, to produce the majority of the Turquoise Jewelry that has been made in the Southwest to date. Anglo's, Hispanic's and Native American Indians have all been responsible for making Southwestern Turquoise Jewelry what it has become today.
Anglo's have had a very integral part of the Turquoise Jewelry that has come out of the Southwest for commercial purposes since its beginning. Traders to the Navajo were instrumental in the marketing of Turquoise Jewelry, including the build up of the tourism industry from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone Park, the Railroad, Route 66 Indian Trading Posts and onto the Internet today. Anglo's have also been totally responsible for finding and mining all of the Turquoise that has been used in Turquoise Jewelry from the Southwestern U.S. in the modern Turquoise Jewelry period.
Anglo's have been making Turquoise Jewelry, worldwide with many cultures of people, for thousands of years. The Turquoise Jewelry that has been produced by Anglo Americans from the past to the present is an important study of it's own and Turquoise Jewelry of Anglo Jewelers like myself is an important part of our American heritage.
I have been and remain very instrumental in maintaining the integrity of the authentic and natural Turquoise being used in Southwestern Turquoise Jewelry today. There are very few individuals in the United States, as well as the world, that are truly concerned in the genuine authenticity and quality of Turquoise that is used in Turquoise Jewelry, I am one of these individuals! The Turquoise Jewelry industry has become very commercial and the fashion industry is more concerned about the look then the natural values of Turquoise Jewelry. On the contrary, my greatest concerns are quality Turquoise Jewelry with authentic and natural Turquoise gemstones.
We hope you have gained some useful knowledge from this presentation page on John Hartman's Jewelry. We invite you to learn more about Silver Jewelry, Indian Jewelry and Turquoise Jewelry by following the links in our Learning Center which has many other informational pages that we have written on topics related to Southwestern Silver Jewelry. In addition, we would like to invite you to join our E-Mail Newsletter - about once every other month we send out a Newsletter to inform our members of what's happening with Durango Silver Company, new products, specials for our members and more. We also have a monthly drawing from our members to Giveaway free Turquoise Jewelry from our company. Please take a moment to become one of our friends and future winners in our giveaway by signing in below.