Nestoria Coriz began learning all facets of heishi, bead and stone work from her paternal grandparents, Santiago and Trinidad Pena, at the age of 6. Her first tasks were to buff stones on buckskin floor rugs. At that time, there was little if any electrical power at the Santo Domingo Pueblo, therefore, all jewelry work was created by hand.
As a teenager in the early 1960’s, Nestoria learned to make silver jewelry when she began working in Albuquerque alongside her father, Lupe Pena. The design and construction she developed are uniquely her own. Nestoria uses the highest grade of stones and shells. She uses all types of turquoise, including Turquoise Mountain, Blue Gem, Sleeping Beauty, Morenci, Royston, Carica Lake, Manassas. Demali in her designs, as well as all shades of spiny oyster, gaspeite, Acoma jet, various corals, lapis, abalone, faustite. She makes her own sterling silver findings (cones, hooks eyes) as well as the silver disks, barrels and beds used in her pieces.
Nestoria’s grandfather was a four-time governor of the pueblo and her father continues to make traditional jewelry at the age of 93. Nestoria’s three sons are following the family tradition of creating and crafting unique pieces. As for Nestoria, she has created numerous award-winning necklace designs including her matching drop pendants and distinctive inlaid silver barrel hoops.