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An incredible historic Navajo or Zuni silver and Nevada Blue spiderweb turquoise bracelet, possibly

by Della Casa Appa for C.G. Wallace, c.1920’s

This is the kind of intensely eye-grabbing turquoise that makes people weak in the knees and literally drives them to distraction causing all sorts of situations from car accidents, arguments and divorces to extreme jealousy, envy, even bribery. In 35-plus years of buying and selling historic Native American jewelry we can say without qualification that this is the most beautiful and dramatic old Navajo or Pueblo row style bracelet that we have ever seen and three of our most experienced and knowledgable colleagues in the field to whom we have shown it all agree. To get three old-school Indian Art dealers to agree on anything is a truly formidable task, but it happened here.

And this was an interesting piece to figure out and ultimately it’s the time frame of the bracelet that allows you to figure out all the rest. In the early years of the 20th Century only a very few of the great American turquoise mines had begun producing at all and there were precious few stones of this extraordinary beauty, size and quality available. Among these early mines were two or three of the very finest Nevada Mines, The Lone Mountain Mine, then known as the Blue Jay Mine, The Edgar #8 Mine and the earliest of the three, The Watt or Pinto Mine which is now known by its much more famous modern-day name, the fabled “Nevada Blue” which was first discovered by Jim Watts in 1901. To say that Nevada Blue turquoise is a compelling stone is to understate it by half, the best of it like all of the eleven spiderweb stones in this bracelet are so good, it drives you crazy.

To recount just one particular story, the great Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma was a HUGE fan of Nevada Blue turquoise and he tried to buy as much of it as he could in the 1970’s from the then mine owners Herb and Dottie Lindner who would regularly fly into Hopi to see him and sell him their finest stones. One day, in 1978, after buying some turquoise from them, Loloma was so taken by the beauty of one particular piece of Nevada Blue stone that he rushed into his studio and spent the next two hours making a gorgeous 18K gold ring with it which he then proudly presented to a very good friend of his and later of ours who was then visiting.

“The Cadillac of natural American Turquoise”

-Quotation source and © Durango Silver Company

 about Nevada Blue turquoise

Let’s get to the particulars of this awesome bracelet; it’s a beautiful silver row-style cuff set with 11 large graduated high-domed old style early mine-cut Nevada Blue spiderweb turquoise stones which are almost like shaped natural nuggets. We would guesstimate that these high-domed stones together weigh a total of about 150-175 carats. Today, if you could find a set of such large and high-grade spiderweb stones of Nevada Blue turquoise for sale which you most probably could not you would expect to pay around $30 per carat or over $4,500-$5,000 for them. The 11 nicely graduated turquoise stones are beautifully set in old style “foldover” type silver bezels and are mounted side by side on a heavy cast-silver shank. The stones are further accentuated by ten pairs of beautifully applied large silver “raindrops”. The superb quality and stylistic details of the silver work and the stone settings lead us to an interesting speculation which is the distinct possibility that this bracelet might very well be an early C.G. Wallace trading post piece made by the renowned Zuni Pueblo silversmith Della Casa Appa (1889-1963).

Nevada Blue Turquoise

Nevada Blue belongs with the finest turquoise to come out of Nevada. Once known as the Pinto or Watts mine, the Nevada Blue is near the crest of the Shoshone Range in Lander County, Nevada. The deposit was discovered by Jim Watts in 1901 and later sold. Access to this mine is extremely difficult. In its high-grade form the colors range from a medium to a dark blue with a black or brown spider webbing. Nevada Blue turquoise was well marketed in the 1970’s and was used by many of the Southwest’s greatest silversmiths. The April 1979 issue of ‘Arizona Highways’ magazine will attest to that fact with its pages filled with Nevada Blue turquoise in museum quality jewelry.

-Photo and text source and © waddellgallery.com

Charles Garrett (C.G.) Wallace, c. 1920’s

The C.G. Wallace Trading Post at Zuni Pueblo, c. 1920

Della Casa Appa making jewelry at C.G. Wallace’s Trading Post, c. 1920’s

Photo source and © Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, Santa Fe, NM

The jewelry made at Wallace’s post during this time period literally set the standard for the highest quality in Native American jewelry and his all star team of silversmiths including Casa Appa was the best in the business. Casa Appa was one of the very first female Zuni Pueblo silversmiths and she was one of Wallace’s favorite artists and made many important high-end jewelry pieces for his distinguished clientele. It is entirely possible that having obtained these outstanding turquoise stones, that Wallace asked Casa Appa to make this bracelet featuring them and it certainly does feature them prominently; every available part of this bracelet is literally covered with these big delicious mouth-watering stones. 

“Della Casa Appa was one of the most famous jewelers in her time and is noted among

Leo Poblano and Dan Simplicio for having the highest quality of work during the high point

of production at the Zuni Pueblo under trader C.G. Wallace.”

-Quotation source and © shiprocksantafe.com

“The Watt or Pinto mine (today called the Nevada Blue Mine) is one of the very few mines that would produce this nice webbed stone in the early 1900’s.”

-Private correspondence with the owner of several 

prominent Nevada turquoise mines.

During this time period, C.G Wallace was literally a giant turquoise magnet, combing the country voraciously

to buy all the high-quality stones he could. As he famously used to say “All the turquoise miners in the country know that

the place to sell their best stones is at C.G. Wallace’s”.

The bracelet measures just over 1” in width at its widest center point tapering down to slightly over 1/2” at the terminal ends. The inner circumference is 5 5/8” and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/8” for a total interior circumference of 6 3/4”. The bracelet weighs a substantial and satisfying 103 grams or 3 5/8 ounces. It is in very good original condition particularly for its century or so of age, but there is definitely some dedicated wear in evidence. There is “patina” in abundance here, some dings to the silver and a good amount of wear and some cracks to several of the eleven turquoise stones. There is also what appears to be an old trader’s code “OZ” or “ZO” depending on how you read it engraved on the inside of the bracelet.

This bracelet is most definitely not a piece for someone who likes things to be perfectly new, perfectly even and perfectly shiny. Rather, this is a piece for a sophisticated collecting someone who understands and values character and history and wear and the unique and distinctive patina that only comes with age and use. For that person, this piece is an extraordinary and rare gem, or should we say eleven extraordinary and rare gems?

Price available upon request