Concho Belts AKA Concha Belts
We sell only 100% Sterling Silver Native American, Navajo or Zuni Made Authentic Concho (Concha) Belts – Made in USA.
Before buying a concho belt, it is a good idea to know a little bit about them. We hope this helps you with your purchasing decision.
The word concho comes from the Spanish “concha” which actually means “conch” or “seashell” but has come to mean round or oval disks (occasionally rectangles) of silver used to decorate saddles, bridles, clothing, used as jewelry such as for pendants and bolo ties and for adorning or making belts.
Concho belts are a long-time Navajo tradition yet it has been suggested that the Navajo borrowed conchos from Mexican tack items or from the Plains Indians.
The earliest conchos were silver dollars that were hammered, then stamped and edged, then slotted and strung together on a piece of leather.
Later in the evolution of concho belts, copper loops were added to the back of the conchos so that the conchos could be slipped onto a leather belt.
Concho Belt Features
Concho belts can be a continuous row of conchos or could have spacers in between the conchos. The spacers can of various shapes but traditionally are butterflies and it is easy to see why they are called that when you look at the shape of them.
Men’s or Ladies?
Concho belts are unisex and can be worn with jeans as well as dresses.
How Many Conchos?
The number of conchos on a belt will depend on the size of the belt, the width of the conchos, whether butterfly spacers are used and so on. But some common configurations might be:
6 conchos + 7 butterflies + a buckle
10 to 14 conchos + a buckle
Link concho belts might have from 12 to 18 conchos connected by rings.
Conchos can be of shiny or matte silver, antiqued or highly polished. Some concho belts are all sterling silver but many concho belts also have stones inset in the center or around the perimeter of the concho.
Leather or Link
Generally there are two types of concho belts: leather and link. The leather belt portion of leather concho belts are usually extra long and blank (not punched) so that you can custom fit the belt to your size. The conchos can be slid along the leather as desired to position them perfectly for your waist size. You can also remove the conchos and buckle from the leather strip provided and place the conchos on a favorite belt that you already own.
Link concho belts are conchos that are connected by rings with a hook fastener at one end.
Fastening a Concho Belt
Concho belts fasten in one of three ways.
Some leather Concho Belts have a normal buckle with a tongue. You will need to punch a hole or two in the leather portion of the belt to custom fit it to you. If you have a small waist, you might want to cut some of the leather off the end of the belt and possibly slide the conchos closer together. If you have a large waist, you might want to slide the conchos farther apart from each other.
Others leather belt style Concho Belts have a large oval “western style belt buckle” with a prong on the back that fits into a hole in the belt. You will need to punch holes and trim the leather for this type of buckle too.
Link Concho Belts fasten with a hook that can be attached almost anywhere on the belt thereby making link belts very adaptable and one-size-fits-all. Those with smaller waists have a larger portion of the belt hanging down in the front after fastening.
Types of Concho Belts – Materials, Authenticity and More
Today there are many types of Concho Belts sold, some are authentic Sterling Silver, Native American Made, but many are not. Here is how they stack up in our opinion.
The fine, highly worked museum-quality Navajo or Zuni Hand Made Sterling Silver Concho Belts are truly works of art and are highly collectible, seldom sold and worn for ceremonial purposes only. They are made by very talented, traditional Native American artists out of the finest stones and Sterling Silver. Often a highly respected artist might make only one or two of these Concho Belts in a year….or a lifetime. Prices are commonly $20,000 and more.
Authentic Traditional Leather
Traditional Sterling Silver Leather Concho Belts made by Native American silversmiths and marketed for the discriminating buyer can be somewhat less complex and less expensive that the museum pieces but they are every bit as nice. They are equally suitable to wear over a blouse or shirt or with jeans. These are for sale in the $1000-$9000 range.
Authentic Traditional Link
Sterling Silver Link Concho Belts made by Native American artists are used primarily over a blouse but many can also fit through the belt loops of jeans.
“Nickel Silver” or “German Silver” Concha Belts have no silver in them at all. They do have a silver color to them but they do not have any silver in them. They are made of an alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel. This is very confusing for customers because they are often fooled into thinking they have purchased a silver item because they are called Nickel Silver or German Silver. When comparing Sterling Silver (which contains 92.5% of the precious metal Silver) with Nickel Silver, you are comparing apples to oranges – that’s why the prices will vary so much. Nickel silver is hard and brittle, so is usually machined rather than hand worked. Nickel Silver concha belts are generally not hand made. They are commonly machine struck or stamped so although the design might have at one time been a Native American design, they are not Native American hand made. Nickel silver does not tarnish. It is more durable and of a much lower cost and value than Sterling Silver. Know what you are buying.
Plated Concha Belts might be chrome or a thin layer of silver plating over steel, “pot metal” (inexpensive cast metal mixtures) or other metal alloys. These kinds of belts are the tourist grade or costume jewelry style belts, a totally different animal than Native American Made Concho Belts.