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SANTA FE  NEW MEXICO

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An outstanding historic Navajo or Pueblo

“Indian Handmade” coin-silver and Cerrillos, NM

turquoise cuff bracelet, c.1925-30



CERRILLOS NEW MEXICO turquoise is a stone of both ancient and modern legends. Prized for its extraordinary

beauty and intense color, it was mined beginning around 700 A.D. by prehistoric Pueblo Indians in the region and for centuries was traded widely across the ancient Southwestern and Meso-American world; with the Aztecs, Mayas and Toltecs far to the south and with the numerous Anasazi residents of the Chaco Canyon complex 125 miles or so to the west. Later, archeological excavations would reveal that a great deal of the turquoise in the extraordinary jewelry made at the Chacoan Great House of Pueblo Bonito contained Cerrillos turquoise.


The high esteem and deep fascination for these green stones held by all these ancient peoples runs deep and is contained in the world “chalchihuitl” This is the ancient Nahuatl word signifying “precious green stone”, whether jade, turquoise or emerald which were prized so highly by these pre-Columbian cultures. So much so in the case of Cerrillos turquoise specifically, that one of the three primary mines in the Cerrillos mining district some 25 miles south of present day Santa Fe is known as “Cerro Chalchiquite” or Mount Chalchiquite. So far had the fame of Cerrillos turquoise spread by the late 19th and early 20th Century that it reached Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where the renowned L.C. Tiffany and Company purchased, owned and operated the Castilian mine in the Cerrillos mining district which was then informally known as the “Tiffany Castilian”.

Turquoise beads, some made from Cerrillos turquoise, c. 1100 A.D,

excavated at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico


Photo source: Sharon Hull and Mostafa Fayek, Scientific American, 2014

Some of the various 20th Century quality marks which were used by various

Southwestern Indian trading companies on historic Navajo and Pueblo silver jewelry


Source: Bille Hougart, “The Little Books of Marks on Southwestern Silver”,

TBR International, copyright by by Bille Hougart 2011, pp.26

"The Nahuatl word for emerald (and turquoise and jade and any other precious

green stone) is chalchihuitl. Metaphorically, it also has a connotation of preciousness.

It appears frequently as "my precious green stone, my beloved.”


Source: Amigos de Cerrillos Hills State Park

The bracelet’s coin-silver shank is beautifully scalloped to frame the turquoise stones dramatically. Inside each of the three “scallops” the individual stones are set in old-style “foldover”-type silver bezels which are surrounded by very finely done silver-twisted wire accents. The stamp work around the scalloped edges of the bracelet is simply superb; perfectly and artistically executed to frame and highlight the stones. The stamp work continues down the silver shank on both sides until it reaches the terminals with more interesting and attractive designs. The overall decorative design is rich, profuse and harmonious giving the bracelet a marvelous unity of appearance.

So that’s the story of these beautiful stones here, let’s talk some more about the marvelous Navajo or Pueblo

coin-silver bracelet that these beauties are set into. This bracelet is an early trading post era piece likely from around 1925-35. Various prominent Southwestern trading posts in this era, such as Garden of the Gods in Colorado, Vaughn’s And Hubbell in Arizona and C.G. Wallace in New Mexico adopted various sets of quality standards for the making of Navajo and Pueblo silver jewelry sold at their posts; foremost among these standards was that the pieces be entirely Native handmade with no machine methods or processes employed, another important mandate was the use of the traditional “coin silver” which had been the primary raw material used in the classic period of Navajo and Pueblo jewelry (1870-1900). That this bracelet was made in this manner with these materials is attested to by the now-famous “IH COIN SILVER” designation stamped on the interior, then as now, an indication and guarantee of its superior quality materials and traditional craftsmanship.

The bracelet measures 1 1/2” in width at its widest center point and tapers down to 7/8” in width at the terminals.

The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 3/4” with a 1 1/8" gap for a total interior circumference of 6 7/8". The bracelet weighs a comfortable and easy to wear 60 grams or 2 1/8 ounces, The center stone itself measures a sizable 1" in length and is 1/2" in width while the two side stones are each 5/8" in length and 1/2" in width.


The bracelet is in excellent original vintage condition overall, especially for its 80-90 years of age. There are some old and well-healed cracks to the turquoise stones, but they all are tight and secure in their bezels. The bracelet is properly and nicely marked with the capital letter initials "IH" and stamped “COIN SILVER” on the interior. This bracelet is a real prize; a spectacular old collector’s-type piece with legendary Cerrillos, New Mexico turquoise stones, just dripping with historic character, beauty and patina.



Price $2,350


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