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All signs point to Nevada for Sydney Martinez, founder of Song Dog Silver

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Sydney Martinez has dedicated the better part of her adult life to Nevada. Her path, both personal and professional, has become so intertwined with the winding roads of the Silver State that she feels it embedded in her DNA, like the red dirt underneath her fingernails after a rockhounding outing.

After spending a decade or so exploring the ins and outs of Nevada, Sydney found a way to channel her adventurous spirit into a physical item, creating hat pins, scarf slides, bolos, money clips and jewelry from the stones discovered on her ventures.

“My husband and I joke that we’ve spent more nights in the back of our truck than we have in our actual bed, but there’s a lot of truth to that,” Sydney said. “Nevada is a wild place—one of the most unbridled in both head and heart in the lower 48 states.”

While Sydney first embarked on this creative journey in hopes of discovering a new hobby, it blew up after she shared the process with her more than 4,000 Instagram followers. 

Image courtesy of Sydney Martinez.
Image courtesy of Sydney Martinez.

“Basically overnight, the support of my hat pins and my newly branded company went gangbusters in a wily way that could only happen in a place like Nevada,” she said.

People wanted to know where they could get their hands on a hat pin, one inspired by Sydney’s own much-loved and well-worn UV-proof wide brimmed hat that has a permanent location either in her car or atop her head.

“Aside from carrying a physical piece of Nevada with us as we ramble down every dirt road to the deepest, darkest corners of Nevada wild, it was really important to me that I make something that any Nevadan would be proud to wear,” she said of her collection.

While searching out the secrets of the wilds from pristine alpine lakes where she fished for native trout to more natural hot springs than she can recall—and documenting it on her blog and other platforms along the way—was a large part of the inspiration for Sydney’s accessories business, she was also inspired by the deep history of silversmithing in Nevada.

After running into several silversmiths on her travels, she made it a goal to learn the trade. In 2021, she enrolled in a silversmithing class in Reno and quickly thereafter started a new venture: Song Dog Silver.

After a couple of years as perhaps the most inquisitive mentee of great Nevada silversmiths, Sydney has gone at it on her own, however, she’s not exactly doing it alone.

“My favorite thing about Nevada is how just about everywhere beyond the bright lights of Reno and Las Vegas feels like a small town, and I’ve really felt that with this new business venture,” she said. “Getting to meet and form friendships with so many Nevadans in just about all cities and towns out there was the honor of my lifetime, and I’m excited to keep that going with Song Dog. So far, I sure can feel the love.”

A member of the Reno Gem and Mineral Society, Sydney learned lapidary (the work involved in engraving, cutting and polishing stones) using rocks she had collected from Nevada locations. She shaped each one into a Nevada cabochon, or cab for short.

While she is capable of doing the work herself, it’s not a quick task, and she began collaborating with locals who create their own cabs (gemstones and glass). When you purchase a piece from Song Dog Silver, you know it’s made of stone mined in Nevada by Nevadans.

The name itself is a clever nod to the oft misunderstood coyotes who call Nevada home, sometimes referred to as prairie wolves or song dogs.

“Despite what ol’ Mark Twain told you, and what you may think when you hear that unmistakable desert lullaby call of theirs, the coyote is so important to the Nevada story,” Sydney said. “My silver work is devoted to them.”

For those who desire one of Sydney’s baubles that sparkles with Nevada pride, they’re for sale at FindingNevadaWild.com.

If you’re traversing the state’s less inhabited areas you may also find pieces at Jarbidge Jane’s Gift Shop in Jarbidge, the Stargazer Inn & Bristlecone General Store in Baker at the gateway to Great Basin National Park, or in Virginia City at the Pioneer Emporium where you can get custom hats and boots to create an entire outfit stitched of Nevada.

“The universe definitely seems to be pushing me in the direction of Song Dog,” Sydney said. “I’m endlessly grateful for the local and regional interest, and more Nevadans than I can count helping me along the way.”

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.

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