WHAT IS T.SKIES
T.Skies is three things. A jewelry store, a virtual Indian market, and a non-profit Native American jeweler’s co-op.
The company produces handcrafted high fashion jewelry while upholding ethical and socially responsible business practices. These practices include properly representing the jewelry we sell and empowering the local communities in the southwest.
- The Jewelry story began in 2014 with jeweler and designer Mathew James. The store proudly displays the rich culture of the American Southwest, from precious gemstone jewelry to luxury art pieces.
- The Virtual Indian Market was created by the founder of T.Skies as a way of giving back to the local Native American communities. The virtual market is streamed over social media where viewers can engage with artists live and purchase jewelry directly from the artisans.
- The Non-Profit Co-Op branch grew out of the mission to help the local indigenous communities. Native American artists have been abused and misrepresented in the industry. The Non-Profit is a safe place for Native jewelers to directly market and sell their work. It is owned and operated by the Native American jewelers that are members of the Co-Op. All business decisions are made by these artists.
Tskies Jewelry believes that jewelry should be ethically sourced and appropriately represented. The company strives to protect the interests of customers and southwestern jewelry designers from industry abuse by creating a transparent buying and selling experience.
A MESSAGE FROM THE FOUNDER
Hello, my name is Mathew James. I am just one of many jewelry artists here in the T.Skies community. On behalf of all the artists represented, I want to be the first to thank you and welcome you to our Inner Circle.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you how Turquoise Skies began and how it ties into our mission.
I was blessed to grow up in Aztec, New Mexico, a small town in the Four Corners area, on the edge of the great Navajo Nation. I grew up immersed in a mix of American western and Native American cultures, an inspiration in my work as an artist and jewelry designer. I was fortunate to be taught the craft of jewelry from both high fashion, precious metal and fine gemstone masters and grassroots traditional Native American silversmiths.
I became passionate about Native art and tradition and felt a profound respect for their culture and history. I believe that the jewelry is even more valuable when it has meaning and rich cultural roots. When jewelry is meticulously crafted by hand and infused with the spirit and love of the artist, it just looks and feels better. If I could bring some of the modern techniques used to make precious jewelry to the masters in the local southwest indigenous communities then we can add some flavor and life to the fine gemstone jewelry and high fashion market.
When I learned that many businesses were ripping off Native culture for higher profits, I was repulsed. Why should these artists—dedicated to creating their art in the traditional form—have to tolerate being conned and scammed in order to make a living? Someone needed to say, or do something.
However, I cannot be the face or the voice of the Native American people. But what I can do is help the people in these communities speak for themselves.
My decision to create T. Skies was born out of the respect I felt the community of Native artists deserved. I made it my mission in life to create a place where legitimate Native artists would have an outlet to share and sell their work while preserving the authenticity of their culture.
The Non-Profit branch was created to be a platform for local artists to tell their stories through their words and their jewelry. Our silversmiths still use the same ancient techniques and materials used by their ancestors who taught them. Every piece of our jewelry is steeped in ancient tradition and serves as an homage to the continued respect we share for the history of all Native people.
In fact the Non-Profit branch is now owned and operated by the Native Artists in the Co-Op. Each represents themselves and the variety of tribes they are affiliated with. Members have access to shared tools and work space and can sell jewelry directly to the customer in our Gallery. This Non-Profit Co-Op is supported by the T.Skies jewelry store. Five percent of the store’s sales of our signature jewelry go to the Co-Op to allow it to continue. Member artists make all financial decisions regarding the purchase of new community tools, shows to attend and continuing their education for this beloved craft.
Here at T. Skies, our mission is to protect both our artists and our customers by only dealing in authentic, and ethical jewelry manufacturing.
Our jewelry not only looks good, it has rich cultural value. Buying a piece supports the future of Native art and culture.
Thank you for your support and welcome to our community.
– Mathew James