I was a couple of years behind Jake Dalla at Durango High School. He was a cool guy. He had a sharp car and he was always nice, even to underclassmen!
This fourth generation Durangoan came from one of the many early Italian families that settled in the Durango area. One of his goals in life was to create a wildlife park and recreation area in honor of his parents. In 2006, the Dalla Mountain Park became a reality.
Jake was always working. At 19 he was driving a Holsum Bread truck but soon started his own business, a company that worked with machinery and mining. The family had several mining claims around Silverton, Colorado that they acquired early on. Jake had a feel for the mining business and loved the mountains.
I had not seen him for years when he came by the Gallery in 2017. He had a mine in Silverton that had some beautiful gold and silver ore, but he didn’t want to build a mill to process it. He had seen some jewelry made from California gold ore and thought that might be a good use for the rock he was getting out of the mine. He brought some samples in and it was beautiful!
We hooked him up with Billie Begay, Jeanette Dale’s brother, who is a stone cutter. Jake provided the heavy-duty cutting machine that the gold ore required. Because of the high quartz content, it’s a lot harder than the turquoise that Billie normally cuts.
Some beautiful cabochons came out of the ore and Jake had Jeanette make up several pieces of jewelry for him. We bought the jewelry from her and traded him for a bag of these stones.
We had planned to work together and create a line of jewelry based on the stones that would have been made by top silversmiths, but it didn’t work out. Jake became ill and passed in a short time.
The family kept the jewelry that we made for him and we kept the stones we had traded for jewelry. I really hadn’t thought about what to do with them. Then, as things happen, Navajo silversmith Tommy Jackson walked in the door and, just for grins, I showed him the stones. I have known Tommy and his parents, Martha and Gene, since the 1980s. Somehow, I thought he might like these gold and silver ore cabochons. I was right.
He took the bag of stones and he, his daughter and son-in-law created some beautiful jewelry. We are proud to offer it to you.
This jewelry has a lot of heart in it. Jake used to go up to the mine, drill holes in the rock and use dynamite to break the wall of minerals apart. Billie spent hours, and lot of saw blades, cutting it up and Tommy and his family worked to turn it into unique Native American jewelry.
These stones come directly from a mine in Southwest Colorado and when you see the sun reflect off them, you feel the beauty of the minerals and the mountains.
There are only a few pieces of this jewelry and we thought you might like to see them!