There are few jewelers with the international reputation that Navajo master jeweler Alvin Yellowhorse enjoys. His award-winning pieces stand head and shoulders above others – even those who have tried to copy his designs, which, true professional that Yellowhorse is, he chooses to see as a compliment. His workmanship can never be matched anyway, the nuance of his skill, the subtlety of his design is too great.
Most of Yellowhorse's life and that of his family has been lived in northeastern Arizona, near Historic Route 66 near the Arizona – New Mexico line. This is land rich with Anasazi and Zuni influence, with pictographs and petroglyphs along canyon walls, all of which inspire the contemporary designs of Alvin Yellowhorse. He learned the basics of being a silversmith while still a young child, learning from his father, Frank Yellowhorse, who sold his jewelry from a table set up along Route 66. Alvin learned to cut fine stones and to work with metals. He mastered the technique called "channel inlay" (the cutting of turquoise & other stones into precise little pieces, assembled into intricate designs then ground flush, together, before being highly polished) and then Alvin Yellowhorse created a whole new technique for which he is widely credited: "corn row wave inlay" in which stones are individually cut & rounded before being set. This method of inlay is much more time consuming with each stone finished one at a time before placing them into their gold or silver setting.
Honoring the ancient ones of his culture while innovating in ways never thought of before are what distinguishes Alvin Yellowhorse. Bola ties, rings, cuffs, belt buckles, earrings, pendants are all hand crafted in his shop: He melts and pours precious molten metals, strategically hammers small intricate pieces into shape and, finally, cuts and inlays stones, from tiny to large, completing each one-of-a-kind creation. One such masterful award-winner is a slide-through bola tie with a center stone of Candelaria turquoise (mined by Wayne Nelson over 40 years ago and provided by the exclusive Nelson Collection of precious stones) and surrounded by 32 fine cut diamonds. To one side sits an elongated Red Mediterranean coral while on the other side Yellowhorse has intricately replicated a miniature Anasazi village using 6 ounces of 18k gold ingot. With this exceptional bola, Yellowhorse's creativity is proven to have reached undeniable new heights.
"As I continue to come up with unique ways to design jewelry inspired by my ancestors and land,” Yellowhorse notes, “I will always love making my jewelry creations. It's a gift that I am able express my inspirations through what I do."
Alvin Yellowhorse has been recognized in several publications including Smithsonian magazine, Cowboys and Indians magazine, The Artbook Arizona magazine. He has a proven track record of top placements in prominent art shows including, most recently, the 2018 Santa Fe Indian Market, First Place: Contemporary Jewelry/Ketoh and Bolas.
With his extraordinary vision, Alvin Yellowhorse is able to craft some of the world's finest Native American jewelry available today.