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SANTA FE  NEW MEXICO

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This sweet little vintage bracelet may be on the somewhat smaller side size-wise, but it packs a big presence and an impressively large amount

of artistic quality and historical significance.


This is an early tufa-cast ingot-silver bangle style piece almost certainly made from several melted-down American and/or Mexican silver coins.

The coins were first melted down and the molten red-hot silver was then poured into a pre-carved tufa volcanic stone mold. After cooling, the bracelet was then hammered into shape and finished. In most cases, stamp work, filed and chiseled decorations are applied to tufa-cast silver pieces after they are cast and that could be the case here. But in some way, it appears that the three decorative elements on the face of this  bracelet might have actually been carved into the tufa mold itself and cast directly into the body of the bracelet.

Navajo Silversmith at work, c. 1920

Examples of the historic American silver coins from which this bracelet was made.

Young Navajo girl wearing her jewelry, c. 1940’s.

Laura Gilpin photo source and © National Museum of Women in the Arts

The bracelet is definitely sized for the smaller wrist. The inner circumference end-to-end is 4 3/4” and the gap between the terminals

is 15/16” for a total interior circumference of 5 9/16”. The bracelet is

7/8” in width at its widest center point and tapers to 3/8” in width the

rest of the way around. It weighs a substantial for its slim width and

very comfortable 32 grams or 1 1/8 ounces and it is in excellent original condition with a wonderful soft patina from age and use. The terminal

ends of the bracelet’s shank are just slightly uneven which emphasizes

its old-style handmade nature.


Historically, in Navajo culture from the last quarter of the 19th

century forward to today, basically everyone wore and wears silver jewelry; children, even very small children, often wore as much jewelry

as their parents as a point of family pride and display of family wealth. Accordingly, this bracelet could easily have been originally made for a child or a young teen. If you know someone whose wrist is on the smaller size; whether it’s a man, woman or child this classic sweet small bracelet would be a perfect sweet small gift.


And even if it doesn’t fit anyone you know, it would still make a

great-looking display piece on a table or shelf.



Price $475



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A beautiful early Navajo ingot-silver 

small-sized, possibly child’s bracelet, c.1920’s