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A particularly beautiful Navajo or Zuni Pueblo silver wire and 21 turquoise cuff bracelet,

possibly by Della Casa Appa, c. 1930’s-40’s

This one almost looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it? Juicy, ripe and absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious.

This mighty yummy morsel is so beautifully conceived and constructed it’s almost hard to believe. Let’s start at the beginning with this finely hand twisted silver wire shank, this is not standard issue jewelry supply stuff, this is painstakingly handmade hand-drawn ingot-silver wire, most likely made from melted down silver coins. Three perfectly twisted wires form the base of the bracelet’s shank on top of which are placed seven diagonal fabricated silver bezel platforms which each hold a diagonal row of three nicely-matched hand-carved turquoise stones for a total of

21 stones in all. The stones are all very finely set in hand-wrought heavy serrated silver bezels.

The diagonal rows of stones are then beautifully bordered on both sides by eight heavy hand-drawn silver wire applied accents. The visual effect of the bright silver wire running between and framing the rows of turquoise stones is quite dazzling. As for the lovely bright blueish-green stones themselves we are not sure which turquoise mine these stones come from, but Blue Gem, Royston and Sleeping Beauty are some mines which come quickly to mind. Whichever, these are very high quality stones with that wonderful elusive intensity, color, brilliance and presence which we in the Southwest jewelry world refer to as the “Zat.”

Now let’s begin the discussion about who might have possibly made this delicious and delectable piece. It is unsigned as is typical of the time period it was made and it certainly could be Navajo made, but the delicacy of the work and the “lightness” and sophistication of appearance and some certain design details which we will go into presently points us in the direction of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico and particularly to the brilliant C.G. Wallace Trading Post silversmith, Della Casa Appa (1889-1963) who was Wallace’s go-to artist for many of his client’s most important jewelry pieces. Casa Appa was one of the very first lady silversmiths at Zuni and to put it mildly she kicked a lot of the boy’s butts into the weeds with her extraordinary abilities. The serrated bezels on this bracelet have a similar look and feel to bezels we have seen on documented pieces by Casa Appa as does the abundant use of stones and the visual arrangement of the rows of stones and the employment of multiple silver wire borders.

The bracelet measures 1 1/8” in width at its widest center point and it tapers down to around 3/8” in width at the nicely silver-capped terminal ends. The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 1/2” and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/8” for a total interior circumference of 6 5/8”. The bracelet weighs an extremely comfortable 57 grams or

2 ounces and it is in excellent-plus original condition.

all in all, this bracelet is a truly remarkable piece, a precious and tasty treat to be savored regularly and often.

Price $1,550

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Della Casa Appa making jewelry at C.G. Wallace’s Trading Post, c. 1930’s

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