Heishi

Heishi (from the Santo Domingo word meaning “shell”) traditionally referred to necklace shell beads. Today, however, it describes tiny, handmade beads of any material. The Santo Domingo Pueblo carvers are the most proficient heishi producers. To make the minuscule beads, the material (shell, stone, or coral) is sliced into strips, and then cut into small squares, after which holes are drilled through the center. Strung together, the rough squares are shaped and smoothed by holding the string against a turning stone wheel. In the process, 60 – 70% of the original material is lost.


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Comments

I found that to be a simple straight forward description of the process. I still have wondered if when they make heishi beads with turquoise,do they use slab stone,or is it made from small chips. I guess from the description if they cut it into squares, I guess it would be a slab. I also have seen the price range that is so widespread, I could believe that has something to do with the type of turquoise used, but I have seen the same turquoise used and one necklace may be under a couple hundred dollars,and then another with the same turquoise,and the price may be a couple thousand dollars. I know there has to be something different to cause such a wide spread in pricing,and I am comparing the same turquoise and the same bead size and length of necklace.Any idea why?

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