Robert and Bernice Leekya have been making traditional jewelry at Zuni Pueblo for five decades. Characterized by hand-cut stones, their work consists of bracelets, bolo ties, belt buckles and more. Now advanced in years, their production has dwindled to a mere trickle. Bernice is the sister of Alice Quam (now deceased), who was also known for making fine cluster work in the classic style.
This eleven-stone row bracelet, though recently made, is a classic nineteen seventies design. The grooved and filed edges of the cuff and the "Zuni cut" Sleeping Beauty turquoise bespeak that earlier era of design. "Zuni cut" turquoise has an irregular surface because a grinder is used to cut out large areas of dark matrix from the rough rock turquoise. While the stone still remains mottled with dark matrix, grooves, valleys and undulations are seen on the surface of the stone where larger chunks of matrix were ground away to liberate this rich blue. This is natural, untreated Sleeping Beauty turquoise chosen for its gorgeous color and cut the old-fashioned Zuni way. Though the Sleeping Beauty Mine is closed and this stone is no longer generally available, the Leekyas have their own personal stockpile.
Hallmarked RLB inside with the center L for Leekya twice the size of the R and B for Robert and Bernice. Also stamped Sterling inside.
Stones: 11 stones ranging from 3/4" x 1/2" (center) to 1/2" x 3/8" (at terminals)
Width of cuff at center stone: 1 1/4"
Width at terminals: 1"
Terminal to terminal: 5 3/4"
Gap: 1 1/8"
Total inside circumference (including gap): 6 7/8"