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A contemporary “Revival-style” Copper and turquoise “dragonfly” cuff bracelet by Acoma/Laguna Pueblo silversmith, Greg Lewis, 2018

Before there was Native silver jewelry being made in the American Southwest there was Native copper and brass jewelry. Navajo and Pueblo metalsmiths fashioned bracelets, rings, buckles and conchos from cast-off copper kettles, brass pots and scavenged old copper telegraph wire. The primary use of copper and brass for Native American jewelry died out around 1900-1910 as silver became more readily available except in the more remote areas of the reservation such as the rugged Navajo Mountain/Monument Valley region where silver was still quite difficult to come by until a decade for so later. From the 1920’s through most of the 1940’s silver completely dominated the world of Native American jewelry.

Beginning around the mid-to-late 1940’s and continuing through the 1950’s, 60’s and 1970’s, a number of talented Pueblo and Navajo silversmiths began revisiting the use of copper and started a “revival” of sorts bringing back the occasional use of copper and brass for jewelry. During those years, a number of Pueblo smiths at The Hopi Silvercrafts Guild, Alvin Concho Lewis at Acoma Pueblo, Leo Coriz and Tony Aguilar at Santo Domingo Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo silversmith Awa Tsireh working at Garden of the Gods Trading Post in Colorado and Navajo silversmiths Jack Adakai and his young apprentice, Mckee Platero, all worked at various times in copper and brass.

This wonderful large-sized contemporary copper and turquoise cuff bracelet made by the renowned Acoma/Laguna Pueblo silversmith Greg Lewis (b.1954) is a perfect example of this old-style revival. Greg is the proud grandson of the great Acoma Pueblo silversmith, Alvin Concho Lewis and he began apprenticing for him at age 15 learning to make jewelry in the old-fashioned, painstaking completely traditional way; working in heavy, cast-ingot silver or thick copper with a simple set of handmade tools. Greg’s work is refreshingly old-style, direct and always beautifully-crafted.

“I enjoy showing people my methods because they reflect the traditional ways my grandfather taught me.

It is very important that these time-honored skills be kept in the family and passed on to future generations.”

-Greg Lewis

The bracelet’s design is an interesting pictorial depiction of a dragonfly, whose wings and eyes are beautifully formed by deep repoussees or domed bump-outs in the copper, The middle of the insect’s body and antenna are rendered with fine stampwork and chiseled designs. The insect’s body is set with a beautiful triangularly-shaped piece of sky-blue turquoise which works beautifully in contrast against the dark reddish-orange-brown color of the copper. The stone is nicely set in an old-style “foldover” type copper bezel.

The bracelet is made on a large-scale and it measures 1 1/2” in width all the way around and the heavy hammered copper shank is a full 1/8” thick. The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 7/8” and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/4” for a total interior circumference of 7 1/8”. The bracelet weighs a substantial 101 grams or 3 5/8 ounces. The bracelet is in new original condition and it is properly signed with Greg Lewis’ customary arrowhead hallmark which he inherited from his Grandfather and the stylized “D” mark of his talented son and apprentice-helper, Dyaami Lewis.

This bracelet is a unique contemporary piece possessed of a distinct traditional sensibility steeped in the early, classic days, methods and materials of Navajo and Pueblo silversmithing. It’s a “back to the future” sort of piece if you will, which while new, could for all intents and purposes have easily been made well over a hundred years ago. It’s a new/old classic, timeless in its beauty and appeal.

Price $975

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