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:: Light in the Far West ::

This beautiful choker necklace evokes the clear desert light and pale granite surfaces of the Mojave Desert, which I visited with fellow Etsy artisan Carol Perich this past spring. The deserts of the Southwest are full of countless variations and each has its own energy; to me, the granite boulder fields high in the interior of Joshua Tree National Park feel like sacred sanctuaries.

The two bronze pendants in this cluster of amulets were made from molds taken onsite in the park. The longer of the two is molded from the granite of Arch Rock. Somewhere out there (Carol...?) is a photo of me sprawled atop the arch like an oversized lizard, shielding the silcone mold compound from the chill wind so it would cure properly. The granite texture translated beautifully into bronze. The amulet next to it is molded from the bark of a living joshua tree which grew in the same area. These two pendants were kiln fired and hand finished, and I'll include photos of the arch and the tree with your necklace.

Shell and pearl elements accompany the bronze pendants. While this might seem curious for a piece celebrating the desert, shell ornaments were commonly used by both the coastal tribes and the peoples of the desert interior. Shell beads and ornaments were traded far inland, and are used by the Pueblo and Navajo Nations to this day. The wave-sculpted abalone drop was found on a Pacific beach; I strung it on tiny ecru seed pearls. A shell disc rests next to it, and an antique white shell cone bead from Mauritania is above the Stone Arch pendant. On the right is a large, rare saltwater baroque pearl; similar pearls were prized by the coastal California tribes. The pale earthiness and luminous iridescence of the shell and pearl also evoke the brilliance of the desert light.

Four of the amulets are set on either sterling silver or bronze wire which was hammered on desert stone, oxidized and hand-finished. They all swing freely from a handformed bronze ring, which in turn is attached to a hammered sterling bail.

A 5mm leather cord forms the choker. At the back, a dramatic toggle clasp comprised of a handmade bronze ring and fossil walrus ivory from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. These, too, are attached with links of bronze and silver spring ends to the cord, and worked in the same manner.

A very primitive and totemic piece, it is chunky and bold and yet the pearl and shell lighten it and give it a feminine quality. These gifts of the sea give it a feeling of gentleness and flow, a lovely counterpoint to the rugged and more masculine bronze. The choker is both comfortable and flattering when worn, and I think you'll love it with summer clothing...and in cooler seasons, it will radiate the light and warmth of the Mojave.

Size: 31cm from the clasp to the base of the longest pendant. The length of the leather choker with clasp is 44.5cm. The amulet assemblage hangs 11.5cm below the leather cord.

Care: Rinse the entire piece in cool water and dry with a soft cloth. Avoid exposing leather, shell and pearl to harsh chemicals. Condition the leather with a commercial cleaning and conditioning formula. Brighten the metal with a jeweler's polishing cloth.

The Light in the Far West will arrive beautifully giftwrapped in a hand-decorated pillow box, along with a handwritten descriptive label.

Joshua Tree Leather Choker with Bronze Pendants, Abalone, Antique Shell and Saltwater Baroque Pearl


  • Handmade item
  • Materials: bronze, bronze metal clay, sterling silver, leather, abalone, antique shell bead, shell, saltwater baroque pearl, fossil walrus ivory
  • Ships worldwide from New Mexico, United States
  • Feedback: 585 reviews
  • Favorited by: 57 people