Book Look: Southwestern Indian Rings by Paula A. Baxter

Like Paula Baxter states in her Dedication, I never feel “fully dressed without wearing at least one Navajo or Pueblo ring.”

In my case, sometimes I just have to wear more !  Being a Native American ring aficionado, I found this book an interesting reference.

In over 350 color photographs (taken by her husband Barry Katzen), Paula shows historic and contemporary rings made by Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Santo Domingo artists and more.  The photos here in my article are not from Paula Baxter’s book – they are photos of my personal rings and some from the store where I work.

Unmarked vintage turquoise – likely Navajo





Coral by Rose Castillo Draper, Navajo



Larry Pooyouma, Hopi

Sidney Sekakuku Jr. – Hopi

Richard and Geneva Terrazas, Zuni

Morris and Sadie Laahte, Zuni






















Contents of the Book

The Design and Appeal of Southwestern Indian Rings

Materials and Methods of Ring Construction

Historical Rings: Pre-Contact to 1930

Vintage Rings, 1930-1979: The Age of Experimentation

Master Innovator

Artistic Adornment: 1980 to Present

It is in the Master Innovator section that she shows and discusses work by Dan Simplicio, Fred Peshlakai, Lee Yazzie, Charles Loloma, Jesse Monongya, Kenneth Begay and others.

Contemporary artists include Sonwai and Arland Ben to mention just a few.

Besides displaying rings in the customary silver and turquoise, there are a number of rings showing other materials including variscite, pink coral, sugilite, petrified wood, ironwood, fossilized ivory, opal, jade, azurite, fire agate as well as many other agates, jasper, tortoise shell and more.


White Buffalo Stone by Freddy Charley









Mother of Pearl by Rose Castillo Draper, Navajo

Lapis by Navajo Bennie Ration


Natural Royston Turquoise by Navajo Walter Vandever






















Unknown Hallmark on Vintage Claw Pendant

This vintage (perhaps 1960-1980?) claw pendant has all the characteristics of being Navajo made.

It does have a hallmark but I have been unable to connect it to a specific artist.

It is similar to many leaf and feather hallmarks, but none quite like this.

If anyone does know this hallmark, please let me know ! thanks, Paula

Zuni artist Charlotte Dishta makes beautiful blanket pattern inlay

Charlotte Dishta has been making jewelry since the 1980s and is known for her mosaic rug pattern inlays.

Here is a beautiful example of a rug pattern on a vintage NOS (New Old Stock) belt buckle.

She uses the traditional four color materials of Acoma Jet, Turquoise, Mother of Pearl and Coral.

BU126-BG-inlay-dishta-1 BU126-BG-inlay-dishta-5Paula

Flea Market ring needs repair and hallmark ID

Hi Paula,

I recently picked up this ring at a flea market and would like to get it repaired. There is a piece of corral missing and on the second tip a silver ball is gone.


I remember reading an article you had about someone that did jewelry repair and would like your opinion on where I should send it.

Also, the mark inside is a D Sterling C Can you tell me who designed this ring?

2photo lightened

Thanks for your help and I love reading all your posts on Native American jewelry,


Hi Sandy,

Here is the repair service we use

Diane Radeke
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078

As far as the hallmark, I don’t know for sure so I thought I’d post the ring so others could suggest possibilities.  I’ve seen some similar items by the Navajo family with the last name Clark but I’d be guessing. Maybe someone else recognizes the hallmark and work definitively.


Nice Coral in Older Pawn Pieces

I love to get the older pawn pieces into our store because, for one reason, the quality of the stones and coral is usually much nicer than a similar item made today.


Native American Hallmark Query – Belt Buckle – Wero?

Dear Paula,

I have several pieces of Native American southwest Santa Fe, New Mexico sterling & gold turquoise  jewelry by the same artist. Purchased over 20 years ago and I have been searching for a name to go with the jewelry. It is just gorgeous and very detailed, BUT to no avail.

Would like to send photos of the artistic logo. Do you think this could be an early piece by F. Wero?

Thanks for your help ahead of time.  Elyn

I am not familiar with the hallmarks or the artist you suggest.

I’m posting this so that if anyone else can help you, they can add a comment to the end of this post. And Elyn, if you find out any information, I’d appreciate it if you would add it as a comment at the end of the post also.


Native American Jewelry Materials – Coral History

Do you know how far back the use of coral by native Americans dates? I am thinking they would have acquired it by trade, though I don’t know from whom. Kathleen

Good question. Red coral (Corallium Rubrum) comes from certain areas, such as the Mediterranean, where the specific water temperature and conditions allow coral to thrive. Coral is a hardened tube or branch. Only about 10% of coral is considered jewelry quality.

Santo Domingo Branch Coral Necklace by James and Doris Coriz

Santo Domingo Branch Coral Necklace by James and Doris Coriz

Coral comes in shades from blood-red to orange to pink to white.

Vintage Native American Orange Coral Cluster Bracelet

Vintage Native American Orange Coral Cluster Bracelet

Although coral has been used by Stone Age peoples as long as 30,000 years ago to decorate sepulchers (burial vaults), Native American artists have only used coral for the last 600 years.

When Europeans arrived in the New World, they brought with them “blood coral” from the waters of Spain and Italy.

Santo Domingo peoples first used coral in necklaces, as wampum (trade beads). The Hopi and Zuni strung coral beads alternating with other beads such as jet, turquoise and spiny oyster for dances and ceremonies.

Coral Treasure Necklace by Navajo Tommy Singer

Coral Treasure Necklace by Navajo Tommy Singer

Later silversmiths cut coral into pieces to set into rings, bracelets, belts, buckles, pendants and earrings.

Vintage Turquoise and Coral Native American Pendant

Vintage Turquoise and Coral Native American Pendant

Coral is often called “red gold” by some artists and the bright red Mediterranean coral is rare today.   Here is an example of a vintage bolo tie with some really nice pieces of coral and below the bolo is a highly collectible set of inlay by Paula Panteah.

Vintage Navajo Bolo Tie

Vintage Navajo Bolo Tie

Vintage Inlay Bracelet by Zuni artist Paula Panteah

Vintage Inlay Bracelet by Zuni artist Paula Panteah

Because Mediterranean red coral is very rare today, bamboo coral, family Isididae, which is another type of branch coral, and yellowish tan in color, is often dyed red and used in Santo Domingo, San Felipe and Navajo multi-strand coral necklaces.

10 strand coral necklace by San Felipe artist Frank Ortiz

10 strand coral necklace by San Felipe artist Frank Ortiz

Coral beads symbolize success and social prominence.

10 strand Coral and Turquoise Necklace by San Felipe artist Frank Ortiz

10 strand Coral and Turquoise Necklace by San Felipe artist Frank Ortiz

Read more about coral in my previous post.