Inlay bear pendant by Navajo artist Chester Benally. The bear has Coral, Turquoise, Lapis, shell and Sugalite set in channel inlay. A Zuni sun sign is set in the center. The 1 3/8” x 1” pendant is set in 14 karat gold, with a 3/8” 14 karat gold bale. The bale can be removed and the bear can also be worn as a pin. The pendant is on three strands of 22” Coral which is interspaced with 14k gold beads. The ends and clasp are also 14k gold. Chester is known for precise channel inlay.
Channel inlay is one of the most intricate techniques of jewelry making. An inlay base design is made and a rim of silver is soldered around the edges. Silver partitions are put in to form “boxes” for the cut stones to fit into. The Zuni Indians are known for their channel inlay jewelry.
About the artist
Navajo silversmith and goldsmith Chester Benally is known for his fine channel inlay work. He is the brother of award winning silversmith Ernest Benally. Fernando Benally, (Chester’s nephew) credits Chester for teaching him the art of working in silver.
Chester is from Gallup, New Mexico and went to high school in Gallup. He now resides in Gamerco, New Mexico. Chester is the son of Eth Nez, and Enop Benally; his brothers are Ernest, Jones and Sam Benally.
2002: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Navajo Nation Fair, Window Rock, Arizona