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Sunrise Jewelers is a family affair

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - When John and Ellouise Padilla established Sunrise Jewelers in 2003, they knew it would be more than a business in the market to sell jewelry. As designer and artist for the company, Elliouse sees it as an opportunity to share some of her Santo Domingo Pueblo culture and continue a craft that has been handed down through the generations in her family.

''It's not just all about us and our business. I want to bring recognition to my Santo Domingo Pueblo Tribe's style and designs through our jewelry. We have a CD that shows the process of making heishi [hee-shee]. It is the oldest form of jewelry making in New Mexico.''

It is also a process the Santo Domingo Pueblo Indians have been known to be the most proficient in for centuries. Under the tutelage of her parents, Don and Nancy Crespin, Padilla learned the ancient process of making heishi at an early age. She was soon designing and making her own jewelry pieces long before she ventured out into her own business. Through the inspiration and knowledge from her parents, Padilla has earned her way along side them as gifted craftspeople. But it is now her husband's inspiration and her own knowledge that gives way to creating and achieving the unique and quality jewelry that Sunrise Jewelers is fast becoming known for.

Originally, the Padillas were working full-time jobs when they met and married five years ago. Ellouise was selling her jewelry pieces on the side, which sell anywhere from $25 to $5,000 depending on the piece. Eventually, they both decided to quit their jobs to start up their company in order to meet the demands and growth of their clientele. As the business grew, so did their reputation as a custom American Indian jewelry company with high-quality products. As members of the Portal Program at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, and the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the Padillas and all vendors who sell their work under the program must uphold specific standards for the quality and production of their pieces. The rules emphasize authenticity, and a maker's mark is required on all merchandise.

Though the portal is the primary venue where the Padillas do business, it is by no means the only place you'll find Sunrise Jewelers. They often split their time as they make their way throughout the American Indian art shows around the country, and have participated in art shows as far away as California, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. With New York and Chicago on the horizon, Sunrise Jewelers is definitely on the rise and claiming its place in the ever-competitive jewelry industry.

To order the Sunrise Jewelers catalog (on CD) or a brochure, call (505) 410-8468.