“Most jewelers are too serious. Then jewelry just becomes a job,” says Myron Panteah with a pained look. It is clear that Panteah enjoys what he is doing. For him, humor is life, and vice versa. He jokes with customers, and many of his jewelry pieces depict obvious humor while others more subtle are discovered only when he is asked to tell their story.
“My jewelry is full of secrets, “ he says. “I will tell them, but people will have to ask.”
If art is in the genes, Panteah is a good example of this phenomenon. A third-generation jewelry, he learned his craft by watching his father and grandmother and playing with their jewlery-making tools. His talent was immediately recognized by one of today’s best artistic eyes, Hopi jewelry Duane Maktima, who invited Panteah to be part of his Pueblo V Design Institute.
Panteah’s jewelry used to contain inlayed stones, but a few years ago he suffered a severe cut in the muscles of his right hand, causing him to lose the feeling in his thumb and first two fingers. Since he can’t hold stones (though recently he has been trying again), he currently expresses himself through metalwork - traditional Navajo stamp and overlay. “People love gold and silver combinations,” he explains.
Panteah’s continuing success lies in his approach. “No one can identify a ‘Panteah style.’ I like to keep people guessing, to come back and see ‘What did Myron do this year?’. I may be working in Japanese wood-grain metals, copper, and silver, with or without stones. There’s something new everyday,” he laughs.