On The Horizon: Leota's Indian Art
The Texas-based online retailer spotlights Southwestern Native jewelry.
Photography: Texas Star Digital/Sam and Aimee Franks
CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Silver pendant with cobblestone inlay by Lyndon Tsosie ($1,400); 14kt gold and turquoise ring by Darryl Dean Begay ($9,000); 14kt gold Yei figure cuff with pink coral inlays by Donnie Supplee ($9,500); Lapis lazuli figure pendant by Charles Loloma ($17,000); 14kt gold and multistone cuff by Raymond C. Yazzie ($29,000)
Based in Sugar Land, Texas, Leota’s Indian Art is a retailer of Native jewelry as renowned as its featured designers, offering artisan accessories by Charles Loloma, Raymond C. Yazzie, and other established jewelers — as well as up-and-comers — from throughout the Southwest. Just don’t expect to find a storefront in Sugar Land: Owner Leota “Lou” Knight only sells her hand-selected pieces through private showings, trade shows, and on her website.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Knight spent much of her childhood absorbing both the culture and crafts of her Native American friends, but it wasn’t until 2002 that her passion for Indian art became a business, after she first met Raymond C. Yazzie. “When I met him, it took my interest to a whole new level,” she recalls. In addition to gem-grade turquoise, Yazzie incorporates stones such as Mediterranean coral, opal, and lapis into one-of-a-kind works (like the 14kt gold cuff shown at bottom right), creating only about 20 each year. “His jewelry started the business. I just loved it that much. And that led me to others with the same ability to create at that level of beauty.”
Like Charles Loloma, whose pieces (such as the lapis lazuli and 14kt gold pendant shown at top right) have become collector’s items since the artist passed away in 1991. “He really put Native American jewelry into the position of prominence it has today, through his creativity,” says Knight, adding that finding new artists with the same talent and vision is often a challenge. For jewelers hoping to catch the store owner’s attention, she offers this advice: “Find the best possible stones you can. It’s the stone that makes the jewelry.”