Vernon Begaye

Navajo Jewelry Artist

Vernon Begaye, born in 1965, was raised on the Navajo Reservation. His parents, Jimmy and Ella-Mae Begaye were silversmiths and his mother is a traditional Navajo rug weaver. Vernon and his brothers, Marco and Jason, learned the art of jewelry-making when they were children.

In 1993 at the age of 28, Vernon was awarded a coveted and highly competitive SWAIA Fellowship Award. He then continued his education in jewelry making, by taking courses with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, CA.

Vernon experimented merging Navajo tradition with contemporary design, continually evolving as the years passed. He is now making exceptional jewelry in an abstract style all his own, that is instantly recognizable and highly prized. He specializes in tufa cast work that merges traditional and contemporary designs and is especially known for his sculptural silver work and inlaid designs.

Vernon is a distinguished, Navajo silversmith whose individual vision sets him apart from tradition while retaining the cultural origins that inspired his talent.

Vernon has won numerous prizes for his work and his work has been included in a number of books on the subject of American Indian Art.

Vernon says, “I like to think out of the box and just be myself. The freedom of expression and going outside the circle is what art is supposed to be about.” He encourages young artists and advises, “Don’t let anyone tell you that your work is not good enough.”

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