Bolo Tie – What is this pendant on a string?

Paula,

I inherited some jewelry and there is a pendant on a leather string. I have no idea what it is and how it is worn. Can you help me so I can know how to describe it to sell on eBay?

Chrissy

Hi Chrissy,

The photo you sent wasn’t in sharp enough focus for me to post but I was able to see you had a very nice vintage bolo tie. I’ll use one from our pawn shop to illustrate my description.  By the way, I encourage you to take the time to take sharp, in-focus photos of your bolo as it is likely to bring a nice price if people can see the details, stones, and workmanship.

A bolo tie, also called a “shoestring necklace” or simply a bola, can be thought of as a Western necktie. A bolo tie can range from an inexpensive “string tie”  to an elaborate sterling silver and leather affair. Maybe your younger brother had one of those string ties that he wore with his cowboy hat and cap guns ??!!

A bolo has three parts.

Sterling Silver, Turquoise and Coral Navajo Bolo Tie showing the three parts: Lariat, Tips and Slide

The cord that goes around the neck is called the lariat. It is traditionally braided from leather, and most commonly black leather. The lariat can also be made from woven cord, thus the term “string tie”.

The ends of the lariat are finished off with tips. The tips can be made of sterling silver, copper or other metals. They can be machine made tips or hand made tips.

And finally we get to the Pièce de résistance  which means the focal point, the best part or feature, the artistic creation for which the other portions exist !  The slide.

The slide is a decorative feature that, as its name indicates, slides up and down on the lariat. The slide can be worn up at the neck in the same position as a necktie knot (formal) or down lower for a more casual effect.

Slides can vary as widely as the artist’s imagination and can utilize many materials. Here are some examples of Native American bolo tie slides.

A lovely Navajo bolo slide made from sterling silver, coral and turquoise with leaves, flowers, rope work and other design elements.

A unique western spur bolo slide made by Navajo artist TK Emerson from sterling silver and beautiful turquoise stones.

A Zuni inlay bolo slide by Simplicio. The horse head is made from mother of pearl and jet. Two turquoise nuggets add a color accent.


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6 thoughts on “Bolo Tie – What is this pendant on a string?

  1. Paula,
    The top pictured Navajo bolo, who was the artist on that one?? The work looks like some that I have??

    Secondly, a question.

    About when did the native artist start using the small jagged edge bezels to hole the stones in? I have some old pieces that have solid bezels, and some with medium jagged bezels??? Just a thought and figured you might have some idea..

    Thanks,

    Bear

  2. Hi Bear,
    You can click on any photo in the blog and it will take you to its page with more info. In the case of the first bolo, we purchased it in an estate lot and there was no artist info with the piece and it was just stamped Sterling. So I don’t know the artist but I do know it was purchased in the 1960s-1970s.

    As far as bezels, I’ve written a post on that
    https://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/native-american-jewelry-types-of-bezels/
    Hand made jagged bezels (might be your “medium” ones) have been made as long as smooth bezels. But machine made bezels are a more recent addition, as to the exact year, I don’t know.

    Paula

  3. Paula,
    I have two old bolos. They appear to be very nice porcelian hand painted ovals. The catcus appears to be a “snowman” with three yellow flowers on the “head” and two yellow flowers on the right hand. It bears the “Paula” signature. The string and the mounting are not high quality but the painting is really nice. Does this ring a bell? Also, I have what looks to me like a prong horn antilope. No signiture. Same size with same cotton like bolo string. Mounting is a little more ornate but still not up to the quality that I would put on the porcelian.
    Are these yours?
    Thanks….looking forward to hearing from you!

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