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.

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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.

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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

Hello from France – how do I tell measurements?

hello paula!
Is it possible to buy Native American jewelry on you site for France? Do you send it after we payed buy credit card? Must we pay for the send?
Thank you!
Céline
Hi Celine,
Yes we ship to France. Choose France from the Country drop-down menu when ordering and it will figure up the shipping.
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Yo can read all about international shipping here:

INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING INFORMATION

International Orders are generally shipped by USPS – The United States Postal Service. Be sure to provide a postal delivery address.

Usually we ship via Priority Mail International with insurance and tracking and that is what our shopping cart shipping costs are based on. Delivery time varies but Priority is estimated at 7-14 business days, depending mainly on your country’s customs regulations and procedures.

First Class Package International. If you are ordering a small, inexpensive item you can request First Class Package International when placing your order – just write us a note in the note box on the order form. If we think that the item can be safely shipped in a packet or small box, we will ship First Class with insurance and refund the excess shipping charged by the cart. By requesting First Class, you acknowledge that there is no tracking available (except for the 14 countries noted below) and that it can take up to 4 weeks for the parcel to arrive.

Tracking is now automatically included for all First Class Package International for the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.

If you don’t receive your package within the estimated times, check with your local post office and local customs office as they could be holding your package for payment of duties. (See more about duties below.) We appreciate hearing when you receive your package so we have realistic estimates to tell our other customers in your country.

Our shopping cart’s figure for international shipping is an estimate. Your actual charge will depend on your country, the weight of the parcel, the size of the box required, the value of your items, the cost of insurance and so on. That’s why the shopping cart might charge you too much, too little or the correct amount. We will promptly refund any excess shipping charged by the cart. If additional shipping costs are due, that amount will be automatically added to your credit card as a reference transaction. If you have paid by PayPal, we will send you a request for payment.

When placing an international order, if you select USA shipping in error, by placing the order you authorize us to charge the correct international shipping cost which will be added as an auxiliary transaction to your original form of payment.

Know the import rules of your country. Any import fees, taxes, tariffs, duties or handling charges on your end are entirely your responsibility to pay. If you choose to not pay the customs fees when your package arrives, eventually the shipment will be returned to us.

For your protection and ours, we insure packages for their full value and customs forms are automatically filled out at that same figure. We are a retail business so are required to mark customs forms as Merchandise. By law, we cannot mark packages as “Gift”. Do not ask us to do so.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks !
Paula
Hi Paula,
Thany you!! Perfect!
I’m look at
NP451-feather-turq-yazzie-1 NP451-feather-turq-yazzie-2 NP451-feather-turq-yazzie-3
Could you tell me:

4″ long
1″ wide
3/8″ bail opening
i dont find these number in cm in internet, ?? how much is it? Celine
Hi again Celine,
There are 2.54 cm in one inch so you can multiply like this
Length would be 2.54 x 4 = 10.16 cm long
Width would be 2.54 cm
Bail opening – you could convert the fraction to a decimal (3 divided by 8 = 0.375) and multiply by 2.54 So that would be 0.375 x 2.54 = .9525 cm)  or you can use this table
conversion 1Capture conversion 2Capture conversion 3Capture
Here are some useful links for English to Metric conversions

What can you tell me about the artist and significance of the two twist bracelets I just purchased?

Hello Paula

Just received my 2 twist bracelets in the mail and they are amazing. They far exceeded my expectations and I am one happy customer. Is there anything you can tell me about the artist and area the bracelet is made? Also is there any special significance to the design of the bracelet. I am giving one to my wife for our anniversary and would like to dazzle her with some information about. Thanks again and please pass on my thanks to all involved.

Regards

Matt

half inch heavy classic twist bracelet

Hi Matt,
The two bracelets you purchased were made by the Tahe family, a Navajo family noted for years for their sterling silver bracelets and notably the twists. We’ve purchased twist bracelets made by husband and wife teams Verna and Franklin Tahe and by Benny and Elaine Tahe. They live in New Mexico.
As far as significance to the design, they have been a traditional bracelet for many years and as far as we know, just an entwining of two different sterling silver pieces into one, so a nice choice for an anniversary.
They also have had a resurgence in popularity as Robert Redford wore one in the movie “The Horse Whisperer”.
Paula

What do you mean by bracelet circumference?

Hi Paula,
I’m looking at your Hopi cuff bracelets. What do you mean by circumference?  –measurement of bracelet end-to-end, or –measurement including the gap, as if it was a circle?
I need a cuff bracelet that’s 5″ end-to-end, or just a little bigger.
Thanks,
Carol

NBS308-ABCDE-josytewa-1Hi Carol,

Circumference is the perimeter of a circle or the outside boundary of a circle.

When fitting a cuff bracelet, you are comparing two circles: your wrist and the bracelet.

The wrist circle is the measurement (in inches) taken with a flexible tape measure around the portion of your wrist where you want to wear the bracelet.

The bracelet circle is the total circumference. Total circumference refers to the total circular measurement: the end to end measurement (taken on the inside of the cuff bracelet) + the gap. That approximates the circumference of the wrist that the bracelet is to fit.

bracelet-size-2

Most gaps are 1 – 1 1/4″ so to find a bracelet to fit you (you said you want one 5″ end to end) you would look at bracelets in the 6 to 6 1/4″ total circumference range as you likely have a 6 to 6 1/4″ wrist.
Paula

More Heishi Fit Notes – Choosing the Correct Length

When buying heishi necklaces, first you need to know how the artist or seller measures their heishi necklaces.

Many heishi makers sell their heishi by length of material used, so 19″ of turquoise heishi might be sold as 19″ …………but with a hook and eye and the bit of slack incorporated in the necklace to make it hang right, the actual necklace wearing length might be closer to 19 3/4″.

NH816-turq-grad-22-garcia-2

For chokers especially, each of us has a particular length we like to wear that suits our physique and clothing necklines. That’s when measurement become particularly important.

NH937-155-crespin-2

Here at horsekeeping, we measure from the tip of the hook to the eye on the other end. That represents the actual end-to-end wearing length.

NH912-20-21-jet-teller-3

This results in most thin to medium heishi fitting well……..

NH834-coral-turq-adj-1strand-ortiz-2but when you are purchasing very thick heishi, necklaces that are 3/8″ thick or more, you should compensate and purchase a necklace that is 1/4″ to 3/4″ longer than your usual length. That’s because the thicker heishi sits away from your neck so some of the end-to-end length is taken up to make the circle around your neck.

NH947-17-reano-2

The same principle applies to Navajo Pearls. If you wear an 18″ 4mm silver bead necklace, when buying a 14 mm necklace, you might need almost a 19″ long if you want it to sit in the same place on your neckline.

BD792-18-4mm-smooth-antiqued-arviso-2

BD796-jameson-stamped-14mm-175-2a

We provide measurements. The best way to get a good fit is to measure a similar necklace you already have that fits you well and compare it to the measurements indicated for the item.

Here’s to beautiful, well-fitting heishi !

Paula

Pendant loop too small for leather choker – what do I do?

Hi Paula,

Perhaps you can help out a fetish newbie. A few weeks back I bought from your website a black bear pendant and a leather necklace to put it on.

NP354-ABC-blackbear-pino-A

leather-chokers-braided-1

leather-chokers-braided-5

I’ve found the loop on the bear is too small to fit over the clasp on the necklace. I don’t want to return either one, but any suggestions? Should I take it to a jeweler? Try to flatten the loop to make it a little bigger? I sure don’t want to damage it. Or perhaps buy a different chain? How would I know that one would fit? I plan to eventually make a necklace of several fetishes that have special meaning for me, and I guess I need some help before I start.

I would appreciate any directions or suggestions you could give me.

Thanking you in advance,
Linda

Hi Linda,

First of all, any time your purchase something from us, feel free to ask ahead of time if a certain bead necklace, for example, will go through the bail of a pendant you are looking at. We can always check that out for you. For most pendants and necklaces we list the size of the bail on the pendant and the diameter (or thickness) of the necklace so you can get a pretty good idea.

The pendant you purchased was shown with a sterling silver round omega which would work very well with it as would most chains.

omega round thin

Also we have some very small, 5mm, antiqued beads that could work.

BD792-18-4mm-smooth-antiqued-arviso-2

And yes, you could take your bear pendant to a jeweler who could gently heat and open up or otherwise reshape the heavy wire loop.

Paula