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.
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: