Home        About Us        Gallery              F I N E  A R T S  of the  S O U T H W E S T         Greatest Hits 1 and 2      Contact




Copyright 2010-2019 Fine Arts of the Southwest, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or use is strictly prohibited.

An exceptionally fine, historic Navajo silver belt buckle
by The Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, circa 1940’s

This wonderful piece was made in the elegant, traditionally-based Navajo “Revival” style of jewelry pioneered and promoted by the distinguished silversmith, esteemed jewelry instructor and Co-Founder of the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, Ambrose Roanhorse (1904-1982). Roanhorse together with his former student, Chester Yellowhair, founded the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild in 1941, and, in teaching their jewelry students, they emphasized and advocated the importance of using completely traditional Navajo silversmithing techniques and materials only in the creation of Navajo jewelry. This buckle is precisely the type of aesthetic and technical result they were looking for and it is perfectly evocative of the Guild’s superb somewhat Modernistic design sensibility and extremely high standard of traditional silversmithing technique and quality craftsmanship.

On top of it all, this buckle is quite a rare bird indeed. We have been enthusiastically buying and selling the Navajo Guild’s historic jewelry pieces for the past 35-plus years and in all that time we have never once had or for that matter ever even seen a stand-alone silver buckle, only perhaps one or two small buckles on small concho belts. The overwhelming majority of the hundred or so Navajo Guild silver pieces we have had have almost all been bracelets along with a necklace or two, a ring, a ketoh, a few buttons, and, very interestingly, a pair of gorgeous ice tongs.

“It sure feel good when you wear hand-made jewelry.”

-Ambrose Roanhorse, 1936

The buckle measures a very nice-sized 3 3/4” in width and it is 2 3/4” in height. It weighs an extremely comfortable 52 grams or 1 7/8 ounces. The center opening will accommodate a belt strap of up to 1” in width. The buckle is in excellent original condition with some minor age-appropriate scratches and nicks and it is properly hallmarked on the back with The Navajo Guild’s famous “Horned Moon” insignia and is also stamped “Navajo”. For more information about The Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, please click here.

This buckle is one of the finest products of an organization which was completely dedicated to establishing and upholding the highest standards of quality and integrity and whose ranks were filled with an All-Star team of some of the finest Navajo silversmiths who ever lived. It’s an exceptionally beautiful and wearable piece that anyone who cares about historic Navajo jewelry should be pleased and proud to own and wear.

Please note that the leather belt pictured here is not included in the sale of this buckle.

Price $2,100

Inquire                                                Purchase

And this rare bird happens to be quite a distinctive buckle indeed. The craftsmanship and technical virtuosity on exhibit here is nothing short of remarkable; the body of the buckle is done in a traditional Navajo four-part or four directions design executed with beautiful deep repoussee work. The repoussees are subtly and beautifully enhanced and outlined by fine burnishing work all around them to emphasize their depth and relief. Additionally, there are two rows of three parallel stacked lozenge-shaped repoussees on either side of the central opening of the buckle. These repoussees are all attractively bordered by beautiful stamp work designs as is the central opening of the buckle. Another marvelous touch are the vertically-oriented lozenge shaped silver ovals at the top and bottom center of the buckle. One might expect these to be repousseed as well, but interestingly they are cast silver pieces applied and soldered onto the face of the buckle. And the attention to every detail on this piece even extends to the beautifully hand-wrought silver crossbar and tang of the buckle. The crossbar is subtly notched to hold the tang in place and the tang itself is very finely stamped or notched at its end.

We have a thought to the technical process of making this buckle which might make it even more unusual and that thought is that there are indications here that the buckle was made of old silver coins directly hammered out to form the body of the buckle. This is a completely traditional old-style Navajo silversmithing technique which is seldom employed since it is so difficult to do but it is totally in line with the Navajo Guild’s design and technical directives. There is some evidence of old coin edges in one or two areas of the buckle and an area on the front which reveal annealing marks where it appears that the silver was hammered or folded over onto itself to form a larger piece of silver from smaller pieces such as several coins.

The overall total visual effect here is of a clean-lined and sophisticated Modernist design sensibility and composition brought to bear in a totally traditional classic manner, the kind of compelling combination which completely characterizes the very best of the Navajo Guild’s “Revival” style.