The Zia sun is an ancient symbol, representing not only the sun but also the sacred number four. This sophisticated design references the four seasons, the four directions, the four periods of the day, the four segments of life, and the four sacred attributes the Zuni people seek to cultivate: devotion to the wellbeing of others, a strong body, a clean spirit, and a clear mind.
Ancient though it may be, the symbol’s timeless artistry evinces a contemporary appeal that transcends the passage of centuries. David Griego, a master designer and the founder of Santa Fe Goldworks, translates the Zia sun’s richly layered meanings into a stunning line of jewelry that encapsulates their significance and beauty. The Zia pendant is a particularly good example of the process, illustrating the meticulous care that goes into the creation of every piece.
After the pendant’s design is conceived, Santa Fe Goldworks’s team of highly skilled craftsmen goes to work, creating every piece by hand and elaborating on David’s vision as the process goes through many steps and many hands.
Once the design is finalized, a wax carving is made of the piece. It is cleaned up and attached to a wax tree along with other pieces ready to be cast. The wax tree is then set into a plaster-filled canister and heated in a kiln to high temperatures, which burns out the wax and leaves an empty space that’s ready for the liquid gold to be poured. This process is called lost wax casting.
Many different metals can be mixed to create white gold, rose gold, green gold, black, and even purple. The metals are then melted and poured into the cast and allowed to cool and solidify.
After the pieces are cooled and removed from the cast, they are cleaned up and made ready for the diamonds to be set, using small beads of gold to hold them in place.
Then the piece is ready for inlay. The Mediterranean coral is cut into strips that are placed into the channels of the rays of the Zia sun.
Finishing the pendant
Because diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, the gold and the coral can be sanded and polished without causing any harm to the diamonds at all.
Next, a swing bale is placed on to the Zia pendant and is inspected to make sure that it is perfect.
This process is repeated for each and every piece that we painstakingly create, providing you with an unforgettable piece of jewelry that is not only beautiful but also rich with meaning, history, and cultural significance. By wearing one of these exquisite pendants or any other piece from the series, you’re immersing yourself in the enduring traditions of New Mexico’s land and people.