Choosing a Native American Ring

So many rings………so few fingers………….

Almost every day I wear one or two sterling silver Native American rings. Some are made solely of sterling silver. Others are inlaid with a variety of stones and shells or adorned with turquoise and other precious stones. For me, its important to pick the right ring for what I have lined up for the day or night.

Although the rings in these photos are my personal rings and not for sale, if you click on the photos, they will take you to pages of similar rings that are for sale at the Horsekeeping webstore.

Rings for all occasions………….

First of all, because I support Native American artists both contemporary and past, I try to only wear rings that are Native American made by enrolled members of Indian tribes in the United States. The rings I wear are either Navajo, Hopi, Zuni or Lakota made.

The two blood red stone rings were made from pipestone/catlinite quarried from Pipestone National Monument by a 5th generation Lakota pipe maker. He gave them to us for our anniversary.

Sometimes with vintage rings it is hard to tell who made the ring because it was not common to sign or stamp a hallmark on Native American jewelry until relatively recently.

This vintage ring is unsigned

RANCH WORK

One factor that affects which ring I will wear is that I live on a ranch. When I am going to be outdoors or working in the barn near metal panels, banging gates, handling ropes, reins and such, I opt for simple rings such as a well-fitting silver band.

Philander Begay, Navajo

When wearing a simple silver band, there is very little that could get caught and rip my finger off. Plus, by not wearing my stone or inlay rings around the barn, I run a much smaller risk of cracking the stones.

Sterling rings are safe to leave on when I wash my hands, something I do quite a bit up at the barn. So here are some of the ranch rings I wear. As you view these photos, remember that coffee is one of the essential fuels on a horse ranch.

Monty Claw, Navajo
Sunshine Reeves, Navajo

Calvin Martinez, Navajo
Sterling braids like a horse’s tail. Maker unknown.

Wilbert Benally, Navajo

OFFICE WORK

When I am at work at Horsekeeping, the Native American Jewelry webstore, it basically involves sitting at a desk typing, taking photos of jewelry, pulling items to fill orders and the like. My office ring options are much broader.

Zuni Snake Eye ring by the Haloo family

Still, though I usually wear moderate rings to work, I don’t wear rings that are too huge or have prominent features. Since many of my “work day” rings have stones, inlay, petit point or needle point, I made sure to remove rings before I wash my hands because getting stone rings wet can do a couple of things, all bad.

Unmarked vintage chip inlay ring

First of all, with repeated wetting and drying, the adhesive behind inlay rings can become softened and eventually let go of the stonework.

Contemporary Lapis Inlay Ring

I’ll never forget the customer who said “After I washed my hands in a rest area just like usual, I watched my turquoise inlay slide down the drain.” No comment.

Contemporary Tiger Eye and Jasper Ring
Inlay Ring by Merle House, Navajo
Contemporary Jet and Imitation Opal Ring
Contemporary Inlay Ring

Contemporary Coral and Sterling Silver Channel Inlay Ring

With stone settings, since most are backed with sawdust or another shock absorbing material, getting them wet will cause that material to swell and push the stone upward, putting pressure on the bezels which often let go of the stone.

Again, a customer, “After I took a shower, the stone just popped out.” Ah hah.

White Buffalo Stone Ring by Tony Garcia
Philander Begay, Navajo

Turquoise and Coral ring hallmarked RB

Micro Snake Eye Ring by Jason Amesoli, Zuni
Custom Made Amber Ring by Henry Yazzie

COCKTAIL RINGS

The final category is date rings AKA cocktail rings. For that special night out when all you have to do is lift a fork or a glass.

Date Night Selection

Cocktail rings are those unique creations that are saved for special occasions when you are just plain showing off. Often large and worn on an index or middle finger, these rings look great whether you are picking up a cup of tea or a glass of whisky. The big bad boys just call out for your date and others in the area to check out your hands and your fabulous Native American made ring.

Tyler Brown, Navajo
Hallmarked RB

Tyler Brown, Navajo

Cluster Ring by Robert and Bernice Leekya, Zuni

Choose an authentic Native American made ring and you’ll always have a winning hand.

Paula

Southwestern Indian Ceremonials by Tom and Mark Bahti

While researching for a personal project, I borrowed this book from the reference library at the web store where I work. Horsekeeping.com

Part of the Native American reference library at Horsekeeping

Southwestern Indian Ceremonials is an excellent resource by Tom Bahti and Mark Bahti.

This 9 x 12 paperback is in full color. 64 pages

Table of Contents

Apache
Hopi Pueblos
Native Religions and Foreign Influences
Navajo
Peyote
Rio Grande Pueblos
Tohono O’odham
Yaqui
Zuni

This highly illustrated book provides information on the above topics that you don’t find elsewhere.

In addition, there is a Calendar of Southwest Indian Ceremonials and a Suggested Reading list.

Paula

Kokopelli

Kokopelli is based on the Hopi word KOKOPILAU  KOKO = WOOD   PILAU = HUMP
The kokopelli, flute player, often associated with the Hopi Flute Clan is the symbol of happiness, joy and universal fertility: humans, crops, domestic and wild animals. He is often a part of rituals related to marriage, conception and birth and has been a part of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples since Hohokam times (AD 750  – 850). The Kokopelli is a presence in Hopi legends and can appear in in ceremonies as a kachina (katsina). See the slide show below for examples.

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Kachinas, supernatural spirit beings, are called “katsina” by the Hopi and “Koko” by the Zuni (which means “raw people”). Kachinas are associated with rain and other good things such as longevity, strength and good fortune. Kachinas serve as an intermediary between the people and the gods to bring blessings to the entire universe.

Today depicted as a non-gender figure, kokopelli was traditionally a male figure, often well endowed until the missionaries discouraged such depiction ! Tales include the kokopelli visiting and by morning, all of the young women were pregnant.

Here is an excerpt from North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment by Lois Dubin

The kokopelli might be simple or have various adornments. It most always is holding and playing a flute, which announces his arrival and is suggested to represent rain, precious to the southwest. His legs are dancing in time to his own music. Sometimes kokopelli is depicted with feathers or a headdress protruding on the top of his head. In a few instances (mostly rock art) he has been depicted with a stick or bow.  He is most always shown in profile.

Milton Howard, Hopi

Kokopelli talks to the wind and the sky. His flute can be heard in the spring breeze, bringing warmth after the winter cold. He is the symbolic seed bringer and water sprinkler. His religious or supernatural power for fertility is meant to invoke rain as well as impregnate women both physically and mentally. He is also associated with fertility of wild animals.

From a Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest by Alex Patterson

The humpbacked kokopelli image is found from Casa Grande, Mexico to the Hopi and Rio Grande Pueblos and then westward to the Californian deserts in prehistoric rock, effigy figures, pottery, and on kiva walls.  Some say the reason he has a hump or is bent over is that he was carrying a heavy sack, perhaps full of seeds or some say with an unborn child he is going to deliver.

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Anasazi, Hohokam and Mibres peoples used the symbol on their pottery. Today many southwest Native Americans use the symbol on their pottery.

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Many Native American tribes use the kokopelli symbol. Here are some samples of its usage by Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Oglala Lakota artists. Click the photos for more information.

Hopi Overlay Kokopelli Belt Buckle by Steven Sockyma

Hopi Overlay Kokopelli Belt Buckle by Steven Sockyma

Oglala Lakota Catlinite (pipestone) pendants

Navajo Overlay Kokopelli Ring by Calvin Peterson

Navajo Overlay Kokopelli Ring by Calvin Peterson

 

Navajo Sterling Silver Kokopelli Pin Pendant by Robert Vandever

Navajo Sterling Silver Kokopelli Pin Pendant by Robert Vandever

You may have heard of Ledger Art, where Plains Indians used the materials at hand, such as old ledger paper from forts and missions, on which to paint and draw. Well, this is Cigar Box Art, a creative repurposing of vintage cigar boxes by Lakota artist Alan Monroe.This box has a large capacity so will hold quite a few treasures or a good amount of sage and other smudging supplies.

Navajo Kokopelli Inlay Pendant

Navajo Kokopelli Inlay Pendant

Zuni Horse Fetish with Kokopelli petroglyphs by Tyrone Poncho

Zuni Horse Fetish with Kokopelli petroglyphs by Tyrone Poncho

 

Hopi Kokopelli Overlay Belt Buckle by Joe Josytewa

Hopi Kokopelli Overlay Belt Buckle by Joe Josytewa

This article is meant to round up the various interpretations of kokopelli, not serve as a definitive tome on the subject.

Paula

Zuni Artist Don Dewa

Zuni artist Don Dewa has been actively making his spectacular inlay jewelry since the 1970s.

He has used several hallmarks:
DON C DEWA
DON DEWA ZUNI NM
DON DEWA CUSTOM MADE JEWELRY ZUNI NM STERLING with a sunface (see example below)

 

When he he collaborates with his wife, Velma E. Dewa, they sign D & V DEWA

He is noted for his beautiful inlay and most notably his spinner bracelets. A spinner, in this case, is a rotating sunface that has different inlay on each side.  See the photos.

Don Dewa spinner pendant

Don Dewa spinner bracelet

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Click to see a spinner bracelet by Don Dewa

 

From American Indian Jewelry by Gregory Schaaf

Paula

Interesting Vintage Price Lists found inside Zuni The Art and the People Sets

 Zuni the Art and the People is a popular and valuable set of reference books on Zuni jewelry. The 3 volumes are in full color and feature many Zuni artists.

Zuni The Art and the People – 3 Volume Set

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Over the years we have sold a number of these vintage book sets through our store and have often discovered paperwork, receipts and more tucked inside. In a few cases, southwest store owners have made up retail price lists to go along with the items in the book, presumably to show offerings to potential customers like a catalog. Following are two such lists. I have blocked out the store names. You can follow along with the page numbers, item descriptions and comments. You might find that the page numbers could be slightly off from your copies of the books as different printings vary a little but you can use the descriptions to figure out which items they are referring to. Enjoy !

Price List A is from 1981

Retail Prices from 1981 Volume 1 Zuni The Art and the People

Retail Prices from 1981 Volume 2 Zuni the Art and the People

Retail Prices from 1981 Volume 3 Zuni the Art and the People

Price List B – year unknown

Vintage Retail Price List Zuni the Art and the People Volume 1

Vintage Retail Price List Zuni the Art and the People Volume 1 & 2

Vintage Retail Price List Zuni the Art and the People Volume 2

Vintage Retail Price List Zuni the Art and the People Volume 3

 

 

Paula

 

Zuni Artists Martin and Esther Panteah

Martin and Esther Panteah have worked together on their jewelry since 1973. Martin does the stone work and both Martin and Esther work on the silver. They specialize in both stone-on-stone inlay and channel inlay.

Their hallmark is M T PANTEAH and ZUNI

Here is an example of their work. This exquisite Antelope Kachina bracelet was likely made in the 1970s. It is 1 3/4″ wide all around and weighs 117 grams. Made from Mother of Pearl, Turquoise, Coral, Acoma Jet and sterling silver. The rounded edges are a signature finishing technique of Martin’s and a very difficult one to do so well.

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From Zuni the Art and the People

From Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry

Paula

Native American Pin Vest

In days gone by, small to medium pins were commonly worn on blazer lapels, sweaters, coats, jackets, scarves. clutch purses and hats…………pins were a fashion staple.

See the slide show below for samples of classic Navajo pins.

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A brooch is a large decorative piece of jewelry pinned to a sweater or dress to complete and outfit and make a bold statement. Large grandmother pins can be thought of as a brooch.

 

Native American artists have made many styles of pins over the years and continue to do so today.  They range in size from tie tacks and hat pins all the way up to large petit point pins and employ all types of animals, symbols and designs.

See the slide show below for samples of Zuni, Hopi and Navajo symbols.

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Although I have written about ways to use pins in previous blog posts, truth be told, I rarely use pins unless it is as a pendant, using a pin-to-pendant converter.

See these articles:

Pins Make a Comeback

Native American Pins 

Native American Pins Beautify Handbags

Like many Native American jewelry aficionados, I have accumulated quite a few pins and rather than just look at them in a drawer or box, I decided to use a denim vest to display some of them.

See the slide show below for examples of animal pins.

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Butterfly pins are popular by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Cluster and grandmother pins are made by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Paula

Book Look: Zuni Fetishes and Carvings by Kent McManis

We have many fetish reference books in the store but the one I reach for first is “Zuni Fetishes and Carvings” by Kent McManis.

There is a first edition (left) and second edition (right)

The first 37 pages are devoted to “The Power of the Fetish” and discuss the symbolism and usage of the various fetishes. The section is organized by animals and human forms: owls, badgers, maidens to mention just a few.

Claudia Peina – Zuni
Warrior Maiden Carving

The next 34 pages discuss the various materials the Zuni artists use in carving and decorating their fetishes.

Emery Boone – Zuni
Horse Fetish Carving of Pipestone with inlay

The next few pages discuss the art of carving.

Antler carving of eagle taking rabbit

The next 55 pages are devoted to the Zuni carving families telling a brief history of the family. Each family section includes a detailed family tree. There are also examples of pieces made by various members of each family.

An ammonite bear by the Laiwakete family.

The book closes with a brief guide to collecting, indexes and so on.  See the slide show below of various buffalo fetish carvings.

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This is a valuable book for the Zuni fetish collector.

Paula

Sadly we lost our mentor and friend Kent McManis earlier this year. His passion lives on and he is held in high regard.

Native American Pins Beautify Handbags

If you are like me and have been a Native American jewelry aficionado for years, you likely have a drawer full of beautiful pins – in my case they are Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Lakota pins that haven’t seen the light of day for a while.

I do wear a pin on a shirt every now and then but they really need to be showcased more often.

One way to feature a large pin is solo on a special handbag. Here is a gorgeous 3″ x 2 1/4″ vintage pin on a stunning Estellon bag from France (the clutch was a gift from a dear friend in Paris and I had the perfect large pin for it!).

Below are a few large pins that would be perfect for solo use on a handbag.

Another way to showcase a large group is to round up all your horses and pin them onto a fabric bag.

This incredibly cool denim handbag was made from a pair of Wrangler jeans and just cries out for horse pins !  Alright, maybe I overloaded it, but nobody wanted to be left out!

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Here are some horse pins like the ones I have on my bag. Click to see more.

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Happy Pinning !! Paula

How Can I Tell My Ring Size?

Hi Paula,

I love the pinky ring size 3 1/2 but how can I tell my ring size?

Size 3 1/2 ring by Benson Ration

Karen

Hi Karen,

The best way is to take a ring that fits well to a jeweler and have them measure it on their ring sizer.

Measuring on a ring sizer

Alternatively, you can measure your finger and use the chart on our website to find the proper ring size. (I’ve posted the chart below.)

Ernest Shirley

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

A good way to find your comfortable ring size is to find a ring that fits and measure its inside diameter, the distance across the center of the opening. Then find that measurement in the left column of the chart below and follow that row to the right to see your ring size. You could also measure your finger’s circumference with a cloth tape measure or string and then measure that with a ruler and compare it to inside circumference in the table. Also, most jewelers have a set of sizing rings that you can slip on your fingers to find your ring size. Just as with bracelets, if you are buying a WIDE ring, you will need to buy a little bit bigger ring than you would if you were buying a ring with a narrow band.

Ring Size Chart

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Inside
Dia.
inches
Inside
Dia.
mm
Inside
Circum.
inches
Inside
Circum.
mm
Number Sizes:
US/Canada
Letter Sizes:
British, Irish,
Australian
Japanese Swiss
0.458 11.6 1.438 36.5 0
0.466 11.8 1.463 37.2 1/4
0.474 12.0 1.488 37.8 1/2 A
0.482 12.2 1.513 38.4 3/4 A 1/2
0.490 12.4 1.539 39.1 1 B 1
0.498 12.6 1.564 39.7 1 1/4 B 1/2
0.506 12.9 1.589 40.4 1 1/2 C
0.514 13.1 1.614 41.0 1 3/4 C 1/2
0.522 13.3 1.639 41.6 2 D 2 1.50
0.530 13.5 1.664 42.3 2 1/4 D 1/2
0.538 13.7 1.689 42.9 2 1/2 E 3 2.75
0.546 13.9 1.714 43.5 2 3/4 E 1/2
0.554 14.1 1.740 44.2 3 F 4 4.00
0.562 14.3 1.765 44.8 3 1/4 F 1/2 5 5.25
0.570 14.5 1.790 45.5 3 1/2 G
0.578 14.7 1.815 46.1 3 3/4 G 1/2 6 6.50
0.586 14.9 1.840 46.7 4 7
0.594 15.1 1.865 47.4 4 1/4 H 1/2 7.75
0.602 15.3 1.890 48.0 4 1/2 8
0.610 15.5 1.915 48.7 4 3/4 J 9.00
0.618 15.7 1.941 49.3 5 J 1/2 9
0.626 15.9 1.966 49.9 5 1/4 K 10.00
0.634 16.1 1.991 50.6 5 1/2 K 1/2 10
0.642 16.3 2.016 51.2 5 3/4 L 11.75
0.650 16.5 2.041 51.8 6 L 1/2 11 12.75
0.658 16.7 2.066 52.5 6 1/4 12
0.666 16.9 2.091 53.1 6 1/2 M 1/2 13 14.00
0.674 17.1 2.116 53.8 6 3/4 N
0.682 17.3 2.141 54.4 7 N 1/2 14 15.25
0.690 17.5 2.167 55.0 7 1/4
0.698 17.7 2.192 55.7 7 1/2 O 1/2 15 16.50
0.706 17.9 2.217 56.3 7 3/4
0.714 18.1 2.242 56.9 8 P 1/2 16 17.75
0.722 18.3 2.267 57.6 8 1/4
0.730 18.5 2.292 58.2 8 1/2 Q 1/2 17
0.738 18.7 2.317 58.9 8 3/4 R 19
0.746 18.9 2.342 59.5 9 R 1/2 18
0.754 19.2 2.368 60.1 9 1/4 S 20.25
0.762 19.4 2.393 60.8 9 1/2 S 1/2 19
0.770 19.6 2.418 61.4 9 3/4 T 21.5
0.778 19.8 2.443 62.1 10 T 1/2 20
0.786 20.0 2.468 62.7 10 1/4 U 21
0.794 20.2 2.493 63.3 10 1/2 U 1/2 22 22.75
0.802 20.4 2.518 64.0 10 3/4 V
0.810 20.6 2.543 64.6 11 V 1/2 23
0.818 20.8 2.569 65.2 11 1/4 W 25
0.826 21.0 2.594 65.9 11 1/2 W 1/2 24
0.834 21.2 2.619 66.5 11 3/4 X
0.842 21.4 2.644 67.2 12 X 1/2 25 27.50
0.850 21.6 2.669 67.8 12 1/4
0.858 21.8 2.694 68.4 12 1/2 Z 26 28.75
0.866 22.0 2.719 69.1 12 3/4 Z 1/2
0.874 22.2 2.744 69.7 13 27
0.882 22.4 2.769 70.3 13 1/4 Z1
0.890 22.6 2.795 71.0 13 1/2
0.898 22.8 2.820 71.6 13 3/4 Z2
0.906 23.0 2.845 72.3 14 Z3
0.914 23.2 2.870 72.9 14 1/4
0.922 23.4 2.895 73.5 14 1/2 Z4
0.930 23.6 2.920 74.2 14 3/4
0.938 23.8 2.945 74.8 15
0.946 24.0 2.970 75.4 15 1/4
0.954 24.2 2.996 76.1 15 1/2
0.962 24.4 3.021 76.7 15 3/4
0.970 24.6 3.046 77.4 16

Paula

Paula busy at work