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Spirit of Santa Fe

JM 209 Robert & Bernice Leeyka bolo tie


Distinctive and unique are two words to describe the husband and wife team jewelry. These Zuni artists have been working together since the 1950’s. There design of free form branch coral and large turquoise nuggets give this bolo tie presence. Even the tips have the design on them. The oval bolo tie measures 2-1/2″ x 2″ and the tips are approximately 1″ x 1″. This is a beautiful tie !

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JM 209 Robert & Bernice Leeyka bolo tie Details


Husband and wife, Robert and Bernice Leekya were born during the 1930’s.  Leekya Deyuse was Robert’s father, while Bernice’s parents were Warren and Doris Ondelacy.  Bernice’s sister was the renowned Zuni artist, Alice Quam.  They began making jewelry together in 1953, the year they were married. Robert and Bernice share their RLB stamp.

Red coral (Corallium Rubrum) comes from certain areas, such as the Mediterranean, where the specific water temperature and conditions allow coral to thrive. Coral is a hardened tube or branch. Only about 10% of coral is considered jewelry quality. Coral comes in shades from blood-red to orange to pink to white.

Although coral has been used by Stone Age peoples as long as 30,000 years ago to decorate sepulchers (burial vaults), Native American artists have only used coral for the last 600 years.


The Kingman mine in northwestern Arizona was one of the largest turquoise mines in North America. The terms “Kingman” or “high blue” refer to the blue color usually displayed in this stone. It has become a color standard in the industry. The mine became famous for its rounded, bright blue nuggets with black matrix. Few turquoise mines produced nuggets, especially of this quality. Old natural Kingman Turquoise is rare. The Colbaugh’s own this mine and the Turquoise Mountain mine, their company name is Colbough Processing. They have recently gone back into the section of the Kingman mine and are digging and bringing some new Natural Kingman Turquoise.



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