On recent visits to Oklahoma, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke with students at a few of the state's law schools. And at a luncheon in Oklahoma City, she picked up some very special Native bling. The gift came from Muscogee/Seminole jeweler Kenneth Johnson, who described the occasion on his Facebook page:
Kenneth Johnson was honored to present Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor with a custom silver coin and pearl necklace.
Justice Sotomayor received the custom creation featuring her June birthstone (pearl) and 5 U.S. silver coins from her birthyear (1954).
The presentation occurred during a luncheon hosted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and The Sovereignty Symposium, Inc. in The Great Room at the Oklahoma Judicial Center in Oklahoma City, OK.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger, who facilitated the commission, introduced Kenneth as 'the jeweler to the Supreme Court' recounting Kenneth's designs created for Associate Justices of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverly McLachlin.
Kenneth Johnson with Justice Sotomayor. Photo Courtesy Kenneth Johnson.
Johnson has been working as a jeweler at the highest level for over 25 years, meticulously creating his pieces from copper, silver, gold, platinum and palladium. As he did for Sotomayor's piece, Johnson often incorporates gemstones and coins into his works, and his specialties are gorgets and bracelets, although it's clear from the galleries at kennethjohnson.com that he is equally skilled in creating earrings, pendants, buckles and rings. In 2007, a one-man exhibition at the Creek Council House Museum featured over 200 Kenneth Johnson originals. He was born in Oklahoma and currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Here is a selection of some of Johnson's work, taken from his Facebook page, and starting with Justice Sotomayor's necklace:
Detail view of the necklace created by Kenneth Johnson for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The piece incorporates silver coins from her birth year. Source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Twisted Fire & Lightning handstamped silver wire bracelets. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Sterling silver & Sleeping Beauty turquoise Butterfly pins created to recognize new pledges for Native American sorority Gamma Delta Pi at the University of Oklahoma. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Sunspider 18K Yellow gold necklace set with diamonds, rubies and a yellow sapphire center stone. This gold was alloyed down from 24K grain, rolled out into sheet and wire, then fabricated by hand into this custom creation. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
18KT gold & ruby and garnet skeleton hand pendant, submitted for 2015 Heard Museum Show application. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Handstamped 22K Gold Coin Hair Tie with Cognac Diamond. Half-ounce U.S. American Eagle coin rolled into an oval and curved to fit around a braid or pony tail. Center stone is a bezel set 33 point Cognac brilliant cut diamond. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Engraved silver and Landers turquoise ring. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Reversible engraved 95/5 platinum/ruthenium and diamond custom men's ring. Set with 5 carats of diamonds consisting of 72 stones. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Stamped and engraved copper crescent gorget featuring removable center pin with 1884 Indian Head U.S. penny coin riveted through center. Finished with hand braided chain. Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio
Handmade Palladium 3 Spider bracelet. Accented with sapphires, diamonds and 24K yellow gold inlay. Stamped and pierced from 1 piece of 3" wide 950 palladium sheet, no prongs or solder. These stones depict Spider at night (sapphire). Image source: facebook.com/KennethJohnsonStudio