Native Jewelry Maker- Harvey Begay, Navajo
Begay learned silvermaking from his father, well-known and respected silversmith Kenneth Begay (1913-1977). For
much of his career, the elder Begay worked at the White Hogan, a Scottsdale shop. The younger Begay worked
there with him, while attending Arizona State University in Tempe in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although
Harvey Begay graduated with a degree in aeronautics, served in the U.S. Navy and worked in the private sector for
a number of years, he returned to jewelrymaking.
Begay was among those jewelers eager to experiment with nontraditional forms and techniques, and move beyond the
silvermaking techniques widely used by his contemporaries. To do so Begay, along with a few other young Native
American jewelers, studied with French jeweler Pierre Touraine. In the process, he learned new skills, including
diamond setting and lost wax casting. Today Begay uses techniques learned from both his father and Touraine,
never losing sight of his culture and heritage. Excelling in casting techniques, he substituted gold for silver in the
century-old method of tufa stone casting, and selected coral, an important item of trade in the prehistoric
Southwest, as the single setting for a bracelet he made in 1997. Copyright 2012
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