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!”

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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.

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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

To Polish or Not to Polish, That is the Question……….

We sell many used and vintage pieces that have from light to heavy patina and tarnish on them. We leave the choice of whether to polish or not to the customer.

Patina is the overall uniform darkening that occurs from aging. Patina adds a richness to vintage pieces. How much patina you like is personal preference, there is no right or wrong.

Tarnish, on the other hand, is a thin dirty film that appears on silver as it oxidizes. Tarnish, in my opinion, should be remove regularly using a mild method, such as with a buffing cloth.  Each of these pieces took about one minute to fully polish with a cloth.

Here is one of my favorite contemporary Hopi Man in a Maze bracelets (by Cyrus Josytewa) before buffing. Basically a dirty bracelet !

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BEFORE

30 seconds later - half done

30 seconds later – half done

DONE One minute of polishing

DONE One minute of polishing

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Hubby’s favorite buckle (Stanley Gene, Navajo) has some nice patina and also has tarnish. I’m on the fence with this piece – I actually think I prefer the overall patina but he volunteered it for an example. A buckle makes contact with a lot of surfaces so even after the tarnish is removed, the buckles still has its character scratches.

BEFORE

BEFORE

Midway

Midway

AFTER

AFTER

Here are some more articles related to jewelry care:

Are you supposed to polish Navajo Pearls?

Cleaning Vintage Native American Jewelry

A reminder about jewelry polishing cloths

Paula

New Life for a Cracked Turquoise Stone Bracelet

The estate lots we purchase commonly contain at least a couple of damaged vintage pieces. We have the choice of selling them AS-IS, with extensive tarnish or soil, silver damage, a missing stone, a loose stone, a cracked stone……OR we can have the item repaired so the piece can be used again ! When I see a beautifully crafted necklace, ring or bracelet that would otherwise be tossed in a box to be forgotten, I do whatever I can to help revive the piece.

This beautiful bracelet hallmarked LESTER ORTIZ  and STERLING

weighs 89 grams and is 2 3/8″ tall at the front.

The gorgeous green turquoise stone (I’ll let you ponder the mine – please put your guesses in the comments below) was too good to toss.

I sent this bracelet to Diane at Old Town (see contact information below) who coordinates the work for the Navajo silversmiths there. Henry waved his magic wand over this one and turned it from trash to treasure !  Thank you Henry !!!!

BEFORE

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DAMAGED LESTER ORTIZ BRACELET

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AFTER

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REPAIRED AND REVIVED BRACELET

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The repair service we use:

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

Paula

Replacing batteries in watch cuffs

Hi Paula,

I have purchased 2 native american watch cuff’s.  I would have had  to  have the batteries  replaced in them every year .  Is there a kit  that I can buy to replace the batteries in thesewatch  cuff’s my self.   The jewelry stores in my area , now they do not want to replace the batteries in these watches.
Debra

WM-176-turq-moore-714-6

Tommy Moore Cuff Watch showing the decorative wings that must be opened. Underneath the wings are tabs that secure the watch in place. They must also be opened so that the timepiece can be removed.

Hi Debra,

Just for sake of completeness in this answer, I want to point out that it is easy to replace the battery in a link or expansion band watch because the back of the watch is exposed so it is easy to access. Many people do it themselves or an ordinary jeweler can do it for you.

W242-snake-turq-effie-5

An expansion band watch showing how there is easy access of the back of the timepiece.

WL-395-inlay-link-edaakie-1

Similarly, there is easy access to the back of the timepiece in a link watch.

However, I know you are asking about cuff watches………..they are trickier because the watch face must be removed completely from the cuff bracelet so the back of the timepiece can be accessed. To do that the fans and anchor tabs must be opened and unless you do have the correct tools and know-how you could damage or break the fans or tabs.

My husband and I have both tried to replace the batteries in my watch cuffs. I have also taken them to local jewelers – all with varying degrees of success.

Now I mail all my cuffs to an experienced Native American jeweler when I need a battery replaced. (see the end of this article for contact information).

To extend the life of the battery, I always pull the watch stem out when I am not
wearing my watch cuffs. This stops the watch and the battery lasts longer.

Alternatively you could use a watch that doesn’t require a battery change such as a good old fashioned wind up watch, a kinetic watch (one that self winds in response to your normal everyday arm movements, sometimes referred to as a self-wind or mechanical watch), a solar watch (also called eco drive watch), or a Quartz watch (one that runs on a quartz crystal).

Native American jeweler that we use – contact

Diane Radeke
Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West
4009 N. Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ  85251
602-350-4009

Paula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here

http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

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

WM-177-claw-cuff-sam-1

Bear Claw Cuff watch by Navajo Elaine Sam

How do I preserve and protect my bear claw pendant?

Hi Paula,

I have a hanging bear claw pendant. The exact same type as on your site. I received it as a gift. It is amazing. I have had for about a year though and the claw is drying out and cracking/chipping.  What can I do to preserve/restore it?  Thanks.

Scott

20140414_140515 20140414_140558 20140414_140609Hi Scott,

Your claw shows natural surface lines and texture which I think is appealing as is. If you think it is getting dry or brittle, however, and you think it might crack, you could consider applying a light, and I mean light, coat of hoof dressing to it. The tiniest dab rubbed in thoroughly. You could use a Q tip to get up into the crevices. Another substance you could use would be bag balm which is basically lanolin. Again, the tiniest amount and lots of rubbing. It is possible that Vaseline (petroleum jelly) might also work.  Whatever substance you choose, use very little, rub it in thoroughly, then wipe it.  You might want to do a few applications over several days before you get it to the state you want.

NP224-bearclaw-sam-2

Some of the silversmiths buff and polish the claws and put a light layer of “clear coat” on the claws which protect them and make them shine. You could also use clear nail polish. But do realize if you choose this method of preservation, it will make the claw shiny and if you decide you don’t like it, you will have to use a solvent like nail polish remover to take it off……and that would further dry out the claw. So go down that path with caution.

Paula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

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

NP458-claw-turq-jim-1

Can I wear this inlay ring to do dishes and shower without worry?

Hi Paula,

Can I wear this ring to do dishes and shower with out worry
Thanks Daniel

NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-A3-400w NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-B3-400w

Dear Daniel,

What??????

PR708-WB-owl-kallestewa-1No, you would have to worry big time. Inlay items are made of many small pieces of stone and shell that are affixed to a backing and to each other. Getting inlay wet such as in a dishpan or shower would allow water to get under the inlay and loosen it. It is NOT a good idea.

Inlay, properly cared for, will last decades as shown by the many wonderful pawn and estate lot pieces we receive. But any inlay, old or new, should be treated with respect and common sense.

Paula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

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

NR367-75-inlay-house-1

Are you supposed to polish Navajo Pearls?

Hi Paula,

I was looking at the stamped Navajo pearl necklaces and began to wonder – How do you polish these necklaces or are you supposed to polish these necklaces?

Thanks   Pamela

Stamped Navajo Pearls by Larry Pinto

Stamped Navajo Pearls by Larry Pinto

Hi Pamela,
It is a matter of personal preference. If you like patina, no polishing necessary.That’s why we leave the beads in our pawn shop as is – so the buyer can decide.
A lot of people prefer patina………and to satisfy those customers, Navajo bead makers also put an “instant patina” on their beads by adding a satin finish and antiquing on some of their beads such as this gorgeous necklace by Navajo Virginia Tso.
Antiqued Navajo Pearls by Virginia Tso
If you like shiny, you can use a soft silver polishing cloth. Leaving a little patina in the stamped portions just makes the stamping stand out more dramatically. Very pretty.
BD794-pinto-stamped-grad-1725-3
AT38-pouch-silverblue-300w
You can also keep them in an anti tarnish pouch if you want them to stay shiny.
AT33-38-pouch-brown-black-280wPaula