Richard Chavez was born and raised in San Felipe Pueblo, one of the more conservative and traditional Pueblos of New Mexico. San Felipe Pueblo holds the distinction of being one of the only Pueblo communities located alongside the Rio Grande River.
In the Early 70s, Richard worked as an architectural draftsman for Harvey S. Hoshour, A.I.A. Mr. Hoshour came to Albuquerque, New Mexico after working for the Bauhaus architect Mies Van de Rohe. The Bauhaus philosophy emphasized the principles of purity, sparseness, and balance that later influenced the designs by which Richards jewelry would become known.
During Richards employment in Mr. Hoshours firm, he also attended the University of New Mexicos School of Architecture. It was at that time he began experimenting in metal fabrication and designing jewelry to supplement his income.
Richard left his architectural studies and employment in 1976 to become a full-time jeweler. What started as a means to supplant his studies and part-time employment has become a thirty-two year career.
From start to finish, each piece of jewelry involves many steps; beginning with sketches to determine certain designs, followed by soldering, sanding, cutting, polishing and the lapidary process. Each step is done entirely by Richard, with the lapidary process being the most intensive. This time-consuming labor of love begins with Richard buying only the best raw materials which he then cuts to become part of his signature designs set into a silver or gold frame. Every stone is cut rough, ground into a shape and polished before it is even set into place. Each stone requires a minimum of ten steps before it is ready for final polishing and setting.
Name recognition has come from the high standards Richard sets for his jewelry designs. His work has received numerous awards since his first competition in 1976. Yet in 1990, Richard stopped entering juried competitions, feeling he no longer required competitive validation. Instead, he finds the positive reactions and comments from the public and his esteemed clientele to be more gratifying than any award he could receive.