Jewelry of the Southwest

Bakersfield has been home to Don Lucas for most of his life, albeit for some short sojourns that would end up changing his life. Don met his wife, Kathy, while they were both students at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Don was studying psychology and theology and by chance took a pottery class. He discovered he loved working with his hands and loved the feeling of molding wet clay. He and Kathy married and decided to move to Flagstaff, Arizona, where his career as a silversmith began.

Artists find inspiration from many sources. For Don, it is color that inspires him. The warm colors of the Southwest and interaction with light play heavy roles in Don’s work.

“I was immediately drawn to the rich color of turquoise and the gleam of silver and fell in love with Navaho and Zuni jewelry,” he says.

He is also fascinated with shapes and patterns and utilizes a sophisticated interplay of design in the creation of his jewelry. Inspired by the artistry of Native American pieces, Don has reinterpreted the traditional designs into his own unique creations. He sources turquoise, coral and many other semiprecious stones from around the world. Stone colors span the spectrum of the rainbow, from the intense blue color of Sleeping Beauty turquoise, a lavender stone; charvoite, a darker purple; and sugilite, a deep orangish red coral from the Mediterranean to deep blue lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, lighter toned denim lapis and many more. The rarest is the apple green gaspeite from a now-closed nickel mine in Austrailia.

Each piece is handcrafted with exacting detail and precision. After 40 years, the skill to create a unique piece of jewelry is second nature. But the concept or design can still be an enigma. The size, shape and combination of the stones dictate the final design. Sometimes it takes considerable time to find a workable and pleasing solution. Despite Don’s many years at his bench, he still loves his work and finds new inspiration every day.

There are new color combinations, new forms, pattern variations and new designs just waiting to be executed by the capable hands of this master, Bakersfield’s own, Don Lucas.