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An exceptional historic Navajo coin ingot-silver

cuff bracelet set with an old hand-carved, pump-drilled turquoise earbob, c.1920-1930

This bracelet is “a good old one” as our Navajo friends of a certain age like to say on the very rare occasions when they see a piece like this nowadays. And a good old one it is indeed, made around 1920-30, traditionally crafted of coin-ingot silver and set with a lovely and even older hand-cut pump-drilled turquoise earbob which has been beautifully re-purposed.

From its overall design to every single aspect of its execution and craftsmanship, this piece is of extraordinary quality and beauty. The stamp, repoussee, chisel and file work are all superb, done on the highest order. The bracelet’s design features the old turquoise earbob set in an old-style “foldover” type plain silver bezel between a pair of elaborate diamond-shaped repoussees accentuated by profuse stampwork designs, and bordered along the top and bottom by very precisely-applied chiseled and fileworked borders.

The bracelet is made of extremely precious and rare materials; the American or Mexican silver coins, several of which would have had to be melted down to form the bracelet, were rare and difficult to come by especially during this early time period as they constitute the type of “hard money” which was very uncommon and difficult to come by in the largely trade-based economies of Navajoland in this era. And then there is the perfect ripe cherry on the sundae, the wonderful old turquoise ear-bob which is set in the bracelet.

These old hand-cut earbobs are rare and treasured items in Navajo culture; beautiful objects which are a unique and beautiful representation of the coveted “sky stone” as turquoise is referred to. They are highly-prized and very frequently worn by Men and Women alike so the use and re-purposing of such a precious artifact into this bracelet is a mark of special significance and importance. The bracelet might have been made for a close family member or friend or for a special occasion or simply for the silversmith himself. It also begs the question regarding where the other earbob might be. It could have simply been lost or tied onto a coral bead necklace as a “Sing Bead” of it might still be out there somewhere being worn as a single earring.

The bracelet is made on the larger side. The overall width of the silver shank is 1 1/4”. The inner circumference end-to-end is 6 1/8” and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/4” for a total interior circumference of 7 3/8”. The bracelet measures 2 5/8” across the inside from edge to edge at the widest point. The bracelet weighs a very satisfying 84 grams or 3 ounces and it is in excellent original condition with some age-appropriate wear and a wonderful patina from age and use. The coin ingot silver has that wonderful characteristic bright “white” color which is so striking. There is some very slight surface cracking in the old turquoise earbob, but this is of no consequence as the stone is completely secure.

This bracelet is precisely the sort of fantastic-looking, just dripping with history, quality and patina piece that everyone who loves older Navajo jewelry is always on the lookout for finding and it goes by many colorful and different names; “the kind”, “the one”, “the goodie” “The go-to”. The names may be somewhat different, but their meaning is exactly the same.

Price $3,200

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Old American silver coins like these were melted down to make this bracelet.

A Navajo silversmith at work in his hogan, circa 1920’s.