Lawrence Saufkie carried on the Hopi Tradition of Overlay

Lawrence Saufkie (1935-2011), Hopi Pueblo, Bear Clan, was the son of Paul Saufkie Sr. and Ruby Saufkie and brother of Andrew Saufkie, Paul Saufkie, Jr., Vaughn Saufkie; husband of Griselda Saufkie; father of Wilmer Saufkie Lomayaoma; uncle of Bob Sekakuku.

Lawrence_SaufkieLawrence learned silverwork, particularly overlay, from his father Paul Saufkie Sr. His father and Fred Kaboutie began perfecting this style in the 1930s and when Hopi soldiers returned from World War II, they began teaching them the method.

What is Overlay?

With silver overlay, there are two layers of silver. The top layer is a scene, figures, or symbols meticulously cut out and then place on a solid silver layer.

The bottom layer is the background behind the cutouts and is traditionally darkened (oxidized) for contrast. In addition the same areas are usually etched with hashmarks.

The two layers are “sweated” together – that is, the silver is heated so that the two layers meld.

The result is a 3-D picture with great depth and interest.


Throughout his life, Lawrence was a great ambassador of Hopi jewelry and a teacher to many.

His hallmark is a bear and SAUFKIE like this

Hallmark of Lawrence Saufkie, Hopi

Hallmark of Lawrence Saufkie, Hopi

Lawrence Saufkie was a Hopi silversmith for more than 60 years. In 1998, he was recognized by the American Museum of Natural History for his contributions to this art form and was the recipient of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lawrence Saufkie was designated an Arizona Living Treasure in 2002. He has been featured in numerous magazines and books and his work has been collected by museums such as the Heard Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Peabody Museum, and Harvard University.


Bear Paw or Bear Claw? Necklace or Pendant?



I am looking for a bear claw necklace. I saw you had one for sale ( bear claw, sterling silver and turquoise and coral, leaves and rain drops.)  I would like to see if you can make one for sale like that one.


Hi Stuart,

I’m not sure exactly which item you were looking at. If you would like to send a URL of the page where the item was sold, that would be best.

But in the meantime, here are a few definitions of how terms are used when referring to Native American jewelry. My husband says it is a girl thing to know what these things mean and boys often use the wrong terms ! Just so we are talking about the same thing here……….

A pendant is a separate piece that is hung on a chain, collar, beads or leather thong.

A necklace is a complete unit that encircles the neck- it may or may not have a central piece or pendant.

A bear claw pendant or necklace is one made with a bear claw (real or faux) or out of other materials in the shape of a bear claw.

A bear paw necklace or pendant is made in the likeness of a print of the bear’s paw.

Now for some examples.

Native American Bear Claw Pendant

Native American Bear Claw Pendant

Sterling Silver Native American Bear Claw Pendant

Sterling Silver Native American Bear Claw Pendant

Vintage Native American Bear Claw Necklace

Vintage Native American Bear Claw Necklace

Native American Bear Paw Necklace with Pendant

Native American Bear Paw Necklace with Pendant

Native American Bear Paw Necklace

Native American Bear Paw Necklace

Now as far as your last question – can we make a specific one for you?  We don’t make any jewelry here. We purchase all of the new items we sell from Native American artists who make the items. Here’s how that goes. The artists tend to gather their materials in the fall and work over the winter on their jewelry. In the early spring, they start offering what they have made for sale. We make several trips during the spring and summer to purchase what we need for our store.

As far as special order items, when we first opened our web store, we took a few special orders but in 95% of the cases, either the item was not as expected, it took too long to make, or the customer changed their mind. The stone was the wrong color or size, the bracelet was too big or too small, the necklace was too long or too short………So we no longer take any special orders.

But it is always a good idea to keep an eye on our new page and the Pawn Shop where we add items daily and we never know what is going to come into the Pawn Shop.

You can go to the Pawn Shop or the New Page by clicking the appropriate photo.