Jeweler Maria Samora stays close to home

Her deep connection to Taos continues to inspire her minimalist work

by Lynne Robinson
Posted 5/28/20

Maria Samora is one of the most well-known, contemporary Native American jewelers.

Since winning first place at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2005, she went on to win again in 2007 and in 2009. She was the poster child for Indian Market that year - the first jeweler ever. Since then, her jewelry has become highly coveted by influencers and collectors. Her designs are inspired by Pueblo Indian tradition but are elegant and timeless in their minimalist simplicity.

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Jeweler Maria Samora stays close to home

Her deep connection to Taos continues to inspire her minimalist work

Posted

Maria Samora is one of the most well-known, contemporary Native American jewelers.

Since winning first place at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2005, she went on to win again in 2007 and in 2009. She was the poster child for Indian Market that year - the first jeweler ever. Since then, her jewelry has become highly coveted by influencers and collectors. Her designs are inspired by Pueblo Indian tradition but are elegant and timeless in their minimalist simplicity.

Samora Studios is a family-run, luxury jewelry design studio based in Taos.

Born and raised in Taos, Samora is half-Native, her father was from Taos Pueblo. Her pieces are not traditionally Native American, but they are "informed by the natural world," she said. She grew up very close to where her studio and showroom are now located, and in fact still lives in the neighborhood, where she and her husband, photographer Kevin Rebholtz, are now raising their own kids. Just a stone's throw from the Pueblo, she recalls her father Frank riding his horse to see his "other" family on the outskirts of town.

Her mother had come to Taos during its hippie heyday, and had fallen in love with Frank Samora - immortalized as the protagonist in Frank Waters' seminal 1942 Taos book "The Man Who Killed the Deer."

"He had a whole other life there," she smiles. "But he came to see us all the time. He would ride his horse over," she recalled.

That deep connection to Taos continues to inspire her work. As an artist and mother, Samora walks with feet in two worlds. Her diverse background is apparent in the jewelry she creates; the sophisticated forms emerge from the artist's hand, exquisite in their craftsmanship and attention to detail - echoing nature in their understated simplicity.

"Minimalistic and elegant, things of quality, this is I believe what people want now," she said. "Being at home these past two months with the kids, I found myself looking around and just wanting to get rid of everything that wasn't of good quality, and design."

Samora and Rebholtz have a teenage son and a nine-year-old daughter and have been homeschooling during the quarantine.

"It's been quite a challenge," she said, "but we got through it, and I am just so grateful to live here, where it's been possible to spend a lot of time outdoors as a family during this time."

The couple travels frequently, both for business and as a family with their kids, but clearly all that has changed for now.

"We were in Italy early last fall," she said, "a country we both love so much, and it was so shocking when the situation there exploded just months later."

Samora had all her shows for the upcoming season canceled - beginning in March with a show at the Heard Museum, in Phoenix. Then the Native Treasures show (she was the Native Treasure this year), at the Museum of Indian Arts, and then Indian Market was canceled as well.

"It's been a great opportunity to get into the studio," she continued, "and we also had a big sale to help fund-raise for COVID relief in Taos, so that kept us busy."

She says having the studio so close to home has been a boon. "The showroom has become a sort of annex to the house," she laughed. "The kids ride their bikes over here to get online for school. The Wi-Fi is better.

"It's become a family studio." She noted. "It's great because I can get into the studio and work, while still being available to help them."

Her sculptural designs that boast masterful gold and silversmithing techniques are distinctive and unique. Heavy silver cuffs, oxidized and set with diamonds, delicate pendants of 18K gold, geometric drop earrings in silver and gold, precious and semiprecious stones set in chunky bezels on rings - all hallmarks of the artist's signature style; modern and wearable. No wonder sales through the website remain steady.

"We had to lay our staff off and reimagine the way we do things:" Samora explained. "At first I was so sad, because Taos was becoming so vital and vibrant, but I look at this as an opportunity to reset."

Being Instagram savvy, her work continues to find its way to fans all over the globe.

For more on Maria Samora and her stunning work, visit mariasamora.com.

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