Inlay Tadpole Bracelets by Larry Castillo

In two separate estate lots, we received two unique Larry Castillo bracelets.

Larry Castillo Inlay Bracelet

Larry Castillo Inlay Bracelet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Larry Castillo Bracelet

Both of them are made in what I have heard is a “Tadpole” design. That refers to the shape of the bracelet.

Tadpole Design

Tadpole Design

Tadpole

A tadpole is the tailed aquatic larva of an amphibian (frog, toad, newt, or salamander) in the stage where the legs haven’t developed yet.

A wonderful feature of the tadpole design is that the curve fits around the prominent wrist bone so is very comfortable to wear.

Tadpole bracelet fit

Tadpole bracelet fit

 

Larry Castillo is one of the top contemporary Navajo inlay artists – his designs are a combination of traditional and abstract elements. Other than that, I do not know much about him. If anyone has any other biographical information on Larry Castillo, I would appreciate knowing it.

Hallmark of Larry Castillo

Hallmark of Larry Castillo

Paula

tadpole 2

Save

Save

Save

Save

All About Link Bracelets – Native American and Otherwise

A variety of link bracelets

A variety of link bracelets, most Native American made with a few vintage costume jewelry and a few Mexican bracelets.

The traditional southwestern Native American bracelet is a cuff bracelet.

BP202-OS-634-turq-CTE-1

Vintage 9 Stone Kingman Turquoise and Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet – C.T.E. Sterling. Raymond Etsitty, Navajo

BP202-OS-634-turq-CTE-5

 

 

But a cuff is not for everyone and especially some women, so in response to market demand, along the way, Navajo, Hopi and Zuni artists began making link bracelets.

Link bracelets are a great alternative to cuff bracelet – they are light, loose, airy and have a nice movement and feel to them. They are great for summer.

And if you are like me and want to wear more than one bracelet at a time, link bracelets make a nice addition on the same wrist as a watch, cuff bracelet or bangle bracelet.

Ken and Mary Bill - Navajo

12 K G.F. and Sterling Silver by Ken and Mary Bill – Navajo

Shirley Tso - Navajo

Rhodochrosite, Mother of Pearl and Opal Inlay by Shirley Tso – Navajo

Southwest Native Americans learned the art of silversmithing from plateros, Mexican silversmiths. Therefore I am including some Mexican link bracelets in this group to show various features.

Two Mexican-made bracelets stamped MEXICO 925

Two Mexican-made bracelets stamped MEXICO 925

The first Native American link bracelets started appearing in the Fred Harvey era and were made of copper.

Copper Thunderbird Link Bracelet - Fred Harvey Era but no markings

Copper Thunderbird Link Bracelet – Fred Harvey Era but no markings

Not all link bracelets are created equal. They take a lot of work to put together. Because they are somewhat “mechanical”, i.e. they have moving parts, either they work well or they don’t. That aim of this article is to point out some of the variables so you can choose the perfect link bracelet.

First of all, these are the main styles with materials most commonly used in Native American Link bracelets.

Sterling Silver Stamped Bead Link Bracelet by Navajo Marie Yazzie.

SILVER – Sterling Silver Stamped Bead Link Bracelet by Navajo Marie Yazzie.

 

Larry Lincoln Navajo Sterling Silver and Gold Storyteller Link Bracelet

STORYTELLER – Larry Lincoln, Navajo Sterling Silver and Gold Storyteller Link Bracelet

12 K G.F. and STERLING link bracelet with decorative box latch.

SILVER AND GOLD – 12 K G.F. and STERLING link bracelet with decorative box latch.

Lambert Perry, Navajo sterling silver concha style link bracelet

CONCHA STYLE – Lambert Perry, Navajo sterling silver concha style link bracelet

Rhodochrosite Inlay by Navajo Shirley Tso

INLAY – Rhodochrosite Inlay by Navajo Shirley Tso

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Cluster

STONE – Turquoise and Sterling Silver Cluster

LEATHER – Concha Belt Style by Navajo Danny Martinez

Next, how are the various panels attached to each other?

HINGES

HINGES

RINGS

RINGS

How do the ends fasten?

ADJUSTABLE WITH TOGGLE AND RINGS

ADJUSTABLE WITH TOGGLE AND RINGS – Lambert Perry, Navajo

BOX CLASP WITH TAB INSERT

BOX CLASP WITH TAB INSERT – Alonzo Mariano, Navajo

LOBSTER CLAW CLASP THAT ATTACHES TO RINGS - Navajo Scott Skeets

LOBSTER CLAW CLASP THAT ATTACHES TO RINGS – Navajo Scott Skeets

SPRING RING CLASP - Marie Yazzie, Navajo

SPRING RING CLASP – Marie Yazzie, Navajo

Sister (Scissor) Clasp on vintage copper Thunderbird Link Bracelet

SISTER CLASP – Sister (Scissor) Clasp on vintage copper Thunderbird Link Bracelet

BUCKLE - Concha belt style - Danny Martinez, Navajo

BUCKLE – Concha belt style – Danny Martinez, Navajo

Fold Over Clasp

FOLD OVER CLASP – OPEN on Sterling Silver Marcasite Bracelet stamped 925

Fold Over Clasp closed on Sterling Silver Marcasite Bracelet stamped 925

FOLD OVER CLASP – CLOSED on Sterling Silver Marcasite Bracelet stamped 925

Peg With Keeper

PEG WITH LATCH (KEEPER)

Vintage Topaz link bracelet with hidden latch

HIDDEN – Vintage Topaz link bracelet (from my mother’s jeweler box) with hidden latch

What are some  other features?

Tillie Jon, Navajo Storyteller Overlay Link Bracelet with Safety Chain, Spring Ring Clasp

SAFETY CHAIN WITH SPRING RING CLASP – Tillie Jon, Navajo Storyteller Overlay Link Bracelet with Box Latch and Safety Chain

Stephen Haloo, Zuni Snake Eye Link Bracelet with safety chain and lobster claw clasp

SAFETY CHAIN WITH LOBSTER CLAW CLASP – Stephen Haloo, Zuni Snake Eye Link Bracelet with box latch and safety chain

Lapis Link Bracelet stamped 950 (greater silver content than Sterling) with box latch and safety clasp.

SAFETY LATCH (KEEPER) – Lapis Link Bracelet stamped 950 (greater silver content than Sterling) with box latch and safety clasp (keeper).

Box Latch with Keeper on top edge

SAFETY LATCH – Box Latch with Keeper on top edge

HERE ARE TWO UNIQUE HINGED CUFFS

Yazzie Navajo Link Cuff Bracelet with Amber

HINGED CUFF – Yazzie Navajo Link Cuff Bracelet with Amber

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HINGED LINK CUFF – Jay Boyd Inlay Bracelet

Jay Boyd Hinged Link Cuff Bracelet

HINGED LINK CUFF – Jay Boyd Inlay Bracelet

Remember, you will be putting a link bracelet on with one hand, so choose one that has a fastener you can easily operate.

Although many link bracelets are adjustable, be sure to choose a length that will allow the bracelet to fit like you want – snug in place, loose, or actively moving.

I hope that this article has helped you find the missing link in your jewelry collection !

Paula

 

 

Closing the Gap on a Native American Inlay Cuff Bracelet

When this beautiful inlay bracelet by Merle House Jr. came into our store,

Inlay Bracelet by Navajo artist Merle House, Jr.

Inlay Bracelet by Navajo artist Merle House, Jr.

I just had to have it…………it matched a pendant and ring I have by him which I love to wear.

BUT the bracelet was gallons too big. Made to fit a 7 1/2″ wrist, I didn’t know if it could be closed up enough to fit my 6 3/4″ wrist.

BEFORE – The 1 3/4″ gap was so large that the bracelet would roll and fall off my wrist.

The silver measured 5 3/4″ end to end. It was the gap that was the bad boy – at 1 3/4″ it would allow the bracelet to roll and fall off my wrist. If it could be closed at least 1/2″, down to a 1 1/4″ gap maximum, I think that could work for me – still enough of a gap to get on and off but it would stay on. It would likely be a little lose but for these big heavy ones, I kind of like them moving a bit.

I asked Diane at Old Town if Henry could possibly do that and she said “NO PROBLEM!”

P1100413

AFTER – Here it is after resizing – With the gap closed to 1 1/8″, the bracelet now goes on and off very easily and stays put on my wrist !

I asked Diane what is involved in resizing an inlay bracelet and here is what she said:

“It’s a commonly held belief that inlaid bracelets cannot be sized because of the risk of stones popping out or breaking.  It can, however, be done by a skilled silversmith with the right tools, materials and experience.

 
The simplest style to resize have stones inlaid on less than half of the length of the bracelet (like Paula’s). 
Inlay confined to just the front of the bracelet - that's good news in terms of my hopes of getting this resized downward.

The inlay is confined to just the front of the bracelet – that was good news for getting this resized downward.

Special tools and a lot of patience will allow the silversmith to bend only the sections of bracelet that have no stones.  The inlaid portion will not change its shape, and the stones will remain secure.
 

If more than half of the length is covered with stones, the silversmith can lift the stones out of the bracelet, reshape the bracelet, and then carefully set the stones back in place.  There are a few adjustments to be made, however, as the “bed” for the stones will now be a different size.  If the bracelet is being made smaller, the curved bed will become longer – then tiny slivers of stone will be added to fill the gaps.  More difficult is if the bracelet is being made larger – the curved bed becomes shorter so some of the stones will be filed ever so slightly to fit correctly without binding.

 

Resizing a favorite inlaid bracelet can be time consuming, but may be well worth the investment for the enjoyment of wearing it! “

 

So here it is back to me and WOW, my dream came true.

P1100411

Many thanks to Diane and Henry for yet another successful jewelry modification/repair !
Paula

We recommend Old Town for Native American jewelry repairs. They do all of the repairs for our store and we are thoroughly satisfied with their work.

Contact:
Diane Radeke
Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West
4009 N. Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
602-350-4009
info@oldtownjewels.com

Unique Bracelet has Inlay on the Inside of the Cuff !!

May 20, 2014

Hi Paula, thanks for taking the time to read my email.

So I have been an admirer of southwestern jewelry since my early childhood going to flea markets and estate sales with my parents.

No that I’m older an can afford to buy some I have begun to develope a small collection of men’s bracelet and rings.

So onto my question:
While shopping at an estate sale this weekend, I came across LITERALLY the most amazing piece of SW jewelry I have ever seen. Firstly, It is HEAVY (I haven’t weighed it but the band is like a THICK and the cuff is 2 inches wide on the wrist).
Secondly there is an engraved geometric insect disign on the top side with a big polished hunk of quality (bisbee?, blue mountain? Turquoise) making up the insects abdomen section.
Now the most interesting/unique part is that when you flip the cuff over the inside of the band has an absolutely AMAZING geometric coral/onyx/turquoise/wood inlaid disign occupying the entire inside band.
 It is signed in old style script  (which has been half rub off – by taking it on and off I presume) from what it looks like, it reads B. Jexxxxx … I researched pretty extensively online and can’t find any signatures or really even jewelry examples that are seem very similar to it. I was hoping you could give me some insight, or point my research inthe right direction.
So in your opinion, this piece looks to be authentic native american? Contemporary or vintage/antique? I am a newbie to the collecting field and have limited knowledge to things of this quality. I love the piece regardless (it’s just so darn pretty).
Also, None of this information you provide will be used to sell this piece – I love it way to much to ever sell it – I bought it has a birthday present to myself, and can say with all honesty, that it makes me happier than just about anything I have ever purchased for myself.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond, and for providing a valuable resource to those of us new to collecting Native American Jewelry.
Paula, Here are the best photos i could get of the signature…. at first I thought it was a script B. Te….. much of the signature has been rubbed off over time… I spent time yesterday looking at native silver smith hallmarks and the best i could come up with was Doris Smallcanyon…. as she seems to sometimes sign her name with a big looping D. and a stylized S
Again, thanks so much for taking the time.
Hope to hear black for you,
Chad
15HI Chad,
Your beautiful and unique bracelet is the work of Bobby Tewa (Bobby Darrell, Tewanoitewa) , a San Juan Tewa/Hopi silversmith that began work in 1974. He was a silversmith for Santa Fe Associates Inc. and began using this hallmark in 1980.
He was born in 1948 and is an award winning artist of  mosaic inlay and overlay. He lives in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico.
His items have won awards, have been exhibited in various markets and books and are in collections, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
He learned his craft from the San Juan jewelry program and served in the US Marine Corps.
Now that you know the artist’s name you could type in “Bobby Tewa” in google and then click images and you will see more examples of his work plus a few photos of the artist himself.
You found a treasure ! Enjoy.
Paula
To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here

If you are selling your jewelry, read this

http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping

http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

NBS325-med-kokopelli-lindsay-1

Could this possibly be a Zuni Bracelet?

In 1971 my cousin who lived in LA gave me a bracelet.  Only recently was it noted to me that it was a Zuni design.  Upon close inspection an inscription was found on the inside.  The letters S P Boone with Zuni below.  Was there a Zuni artist with this hallmark?  I am hoping you can assist me in this search to see if there is value in the bracelet.  Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give.
Living blessed,
Janice
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

More from Janice…………In 1971 I was gifted by my cousin in LA this bracelet.  The only reference as to its origin is I remember his saying it was one of some items he had picked up while on a trip to Arizona or New Mexico.  I had admired it and a couple of other pieces.  He gave all the pieces to me.  He passed away 6 years ago, so I cannot get any background info from him.  The bracelet spent most of the last 42 years tucked into my jewelry box.
Recently I wore the bracelet for a special occasion and a friend noted it looked to be a Zuni bracelet.  I had no clue what that meant so she told me it was a quality piece of work by the Zuni tribe.  She looked at the bracelet and the inside had the initials S P Boone, with the ‘ne’ portion being linked together.  Below is zuni.
Age:  42 years +
Hallmark:  S P Boone Zuni
Weight:  .35g.
Dimensions:  2.5″ x .75″ that tapers down to an opening, 1.24″
Condition:  no cracks of missing stones
I know nothing other than what little I have researched online.  The bracelet displays a design I see on many of the inlaid Zuni pieces.
Is anyone familiar with the artist, S P Boone?
Hi Janice,
Although I have no information or knowledge about an SP Boone, the name Boone is a common Zuni name. We have a number of fetish carvings from the Boone family such as this jet horse by Emery Boone.
Jet horse with inlay by Zuni carver Emery Boone
And as you have discovered, that style of inlay is distinctively Zuni such as this bracelet by Zuni artist Quinton Bowannie
Zuni inlay bracelet by Quinton Bowannie
Paula

If I can’t squeeze an inlay bracelet to put it on, what is the proper way?

Dear Paula,

I am sending you this email because I have been viewing one of your Inlay Bracelets on your website. we recently purchased a beautiful pendant and necklace and once it arrived we were very pleased! This bracelet is one I have loved since finding the pendant! I have read everything you have about sizing and still can’t determine if this one would fit me okay. I have a couple other cuff bracelets but they are not the proper fit and I can open and close them to fit, they also aren’t as expensive as this, so I
could really use your help!!! The bracelet I’m talking about is ITEM# NBN544(Steve Francisco-Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise and Opal Inlay Bracelet-size 6 1/4″-only one available).

NBN544-625-turq-francisco-1

My dilemma is will this bracelet fit my 6″ wrist the proper way? I do want to wear it right at the wrist area. I see that you state Inlay bracelets really aren’t meant to be adjusted so this is why I really would appreciate your honest opinion! Another Question I have is if you can’t open/close it, how do you put it on/off? I don’t want to make a purchase of this price and not be able to fit it properly, or damage it! Its too beautiful not to be
able to wear it!

If you could please respond I would greatly appreciate it!
Sincerely Yours,
Lisa

Hi Lisa,

You should never have to open and close a bracelet to put it on or take it off. Once you find the correct bracelet size and you use the right technique (roll it on), they go on and off without changing shape or size and they won’t be damaged or misshapen and they will last a lifetime !!

Read the last paragraph here to see how to properly put a cuff on and off.
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/info/cuff-bracelet.htm

and this will provide more info too

https://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/native-american-jewelry-putting-on-a-cuff-bracelet/

Once you have read those, if you can send me the dimensions of a cuff bracelet that you do have that fits you well – measure inside using a cloth tape measure or a piece of string and then measuring the string on a ruler. Send the inside measurement end to end and then also send the measurement of the gap (the space between the ends).

NBN542-658-turq-cobblestone-douglas-1

Then I can tell you if this bracelet might work for you.  It is so beautiful and unique !  But yes, if you open and close this bracelet like you do with your others, it will likely lose stones. That’s because the stones are set into the bracelet end to end conforming perfectly to the shape of the sterling silver. If you change the shape of the sterling silver by squeezing or opening it, the stones will become dislodged.

Paula

NBN539-675-orangeso-douglas-1

Repair of my Beloved Chester Mahooty Inlay Bracelet

I received a beautiful old bracelet years ago and sadly one day a piece of inlay disappeared.  I was nervous about shipping the bracelet to someone to fix………that is until I met Diane at Old Town Trading Co. (see contact info at the end of the article.)

Here is my personal repair story with a happy happy ending.

Hi Diane,

I have a special inlay bracelet that is missing one piece of inlay which I think might be ivory – cream colored, not white. What do you think? What would it cost to repair this one? Paula

Chester Mahooty bracelet with missing inlay piece.

Hi Paula,

You’re bracelet is so unusual – I just love it! We usually charge about $20 to replace 1 missing stone. But there are many factors that affect that price:

size  – a big stone costs more

type – rare stones like red coral or Bisbee turquoise cost more

number of stones being replaced – 10 needlepoint stones in the same piece might cost only $15 per stone

whether the customer still has the original stone – that might only be $10 for resetting

whether or not any additional work needs to be done in order to repair the setting.

That’s why we always like to examine a piece before giving a firm quote. Of course there is also the shipping charges back and forth that a customer needs to pay.

For your piece, we don’t have ivory, and I’m not sure we could get it. There are, however, some shells that have a creamy appearance and might work nicely in this instance. I believe we also have a white coral that has that creamier appearance, without going into the orange tones. If you can get a piece of ivory, we can cut it and set it. I can see that your center coral has a little issue, too. If it’s not uneven on the surface, it might not be a problem, but if you’d want us to replace that, it would be $25 (red coral is expensive, but we do use the real thing – not dyed).

Hi again Diane,

The bracelet is a 1960s or early 1970s Zuni inlay cuff by the late Chester Mahooty.

On the bracelet, the only thing I want done is to have the one cream piece of missing inlay replaced. Maybe it was ivory (I think ivory was still available at the time he made this as was the tortoise shell that is also in the piece). Since ivory isn’t an option, you suggested using a similar ivory colored shell to match the piece on the opposite side? You’ll see he used cream and white inlay but it is the cream piece that is missing.

I do not want the chipped red coral circle at the top of his tail repaired– just leave it as is. And please don’t buff or polish the piece. I want to keep the patina as is. (See my recent post about cleaning vintage jewelry.)

Hi Paula,

Your bracelet arrived here safe and sound.

First, I feel very clear on what you want for your bracelet, which is a beauty! I love the stamped sides. We will do our best to match with something. The guys are willing to look through their personal stashes to see what they can come up with. Henry will do the inlay a little differently to avoid any errant polishing. They usually would grind the surface of the stone after setting it into the bracelet, but he will cut and finish the stone completely out of the setting, then glue it in. The stone will be a little thinner (depth-wise, but you won’t see it) than doing it the regular way, but this will ensure that the bracelet never gets near the grinder. I do need to mention that there is a crack in the bird’s head, kind of through his eye and cheek, another crack in the turquoise chest, the chip previously mentioned in the coral belly, and a couple of other teeny tiny chips and cracks. Nothing unusual nor in need of repair – I just like to mention these things before it goes back into the shop so you’re aware. I’ll have the guys alert me if they see any weak settings, but I don’t believe they will. The rest of the settings look very good to me.

Fitting the stone

Hi Diane !!!

I received my bracelet and I am so happy. Thank you so much for your good care and Henry’s excellent work !  I have more items to send you. Paula

Old Town Trading Company has been in business in Scottsdale, AZ for 26 years and has 2 Native American artists who perform expert repairs and renovations to new and vintage pieces.

Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West

4009 N. Brown Avenue

Scottsdale, AZ  85251

480-970-8065

Attn: Diane

jewelsofthewest@qwestoffice.net