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Nieto, Chris

Chris Nieto of Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo) is one of my favorite Native American Jewelers.He has a terrific eye for design and color. He is also a master at working with a variety of stones. Born in 1972, Chris attended the Santa Fe Indian School and served in the U.S. Army in Desert Storm. He has received awards for his jewelry from The Heard, the Indian Arts and Crafts Association and Santa Fe Indian Market.

When he was only six years old, Chris started cutting heishi beads from melon shell and baby olive shell in the traditional ways of his pueblo. By ten he was doing inlay work. After his military service, he attended culinary school and became a chef at local New Mexico casinos.

Jewelry was always on his mind and in 2004 Chris decided to make jewelry his full time job. During the Depression, like many Santo Domingo jewelers, his grandfather made inlay jewelry out of old car batteries when traditional materials were unavailable. He also gathered inspiration from his grandmother and mother who would show him their traditional family jewelry. His designs are influenced by his museum research. Chris puts his own contemporary spin on each piece. His goal is to keep the old Santo Domingo traditions alive and to pass them down to new generations.

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