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


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 my go-to repair gal Diane Radeke if Henry could possibly do that and she said “NO PROBLEM!”


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.


Many thanks to Diane and Henry for yet another successful jewelry modification/repair !

We recommend contacting Diane Radeke for Native American jewelry repairs. They do all of the repairs for our store and we are thoroughly satisfied with their work.  Paula


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

Could this possibly be a Zuni Bracelet?

In 1971 my cousin who lived in LA gave me a bracelet.  Only recently was it noted to me that it was a Zuni design.  Upon close inspection an inscription was found on the inside.  The letters S P Boone with Zuni below.  Was there a Zuni artist with this hallmark?  I am hoping you can assist me in this search to see if there is value in the bracelet.  Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give.
Living blessed,

More from Janice…………In 1971 I was gifted by my cousin in LA this bracelet.  The only reference as to its origin is I remember his saying it was one of some items he had picked up while on a trip to Arizona or New Mexico.  I had admired it and a couple of other pieces.  He gave all the pieces to me.  He passed away 6 years ago, so I cannot get any background info from him.  The bracelet spent most of the last 42 years tucked into my jewelry box.
Recently I wore the bracelet for a special occasion and a friend noted it looked to be a Zuni bracelet.  I had no clue what that meant so she told me it was a quality piece of work by the Zuni tribe.  She looked at the bracelet and the inside had the initials S P Boone, with the ‘ne’ portion being linked together.  Below is zuni.
Age:  42 years +
Hallmark:  S P Boone Zuni
Weight:  .35g.
Dimensions:  2.5″ x .75″ that tapers down to an opening, 1.24″
Condition:  no cracks of missing stones
I know nothing other than what little I have researched online.  The bracelet displays a design I see on many of the inlaid Zuni pieces.
Is anyone familiar with the artist, S P Boone?
Hi Janice,
Although I have no information or knowledge about an SP Boone, the name Boone is a common Zuni name. We have a number of fetish carvings from the Boone family such as this jet horse by Emery Boone.
Jet horse with inlay by Zuni carver Emery Boone
And as you have discovered, that style of inlay is distinctively Zuni such as this bracelet by Zuni artist Quinton Bowannie
Zuni inlay bracelet by Quinton Bowannie

If I can’t squeeze an inlay bracelet to put it on, what is the proper way?

Dear Paula,

I am sending you this email because I have been viewing one of your Inlay Bracelets on your website. we recently purchased a beautiful pendant and necklace and once it arrived we were very pleased! This bracelet is one I have loved since finding the pendant! I have read everything you have about sizing and still can’t determine if this one would fit me okay. I have a couple other cuff bracelets but they are not the proper fit and I can open and close them to fit, they also aren’t as expensive as this, so I
could really use your help!!! The bracelet I’m talking about is ITEM# NBN544(Steve Francisco-Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise and Opal Inlay Bracelet-size 6 1/4″-only one available).


My dilemma is will this bracelet fit my 6″ wrist the proper way? I do want to wear it right at the wrist area. I see that you state Inlay bracelets really aren’t meant to be adjusted so this is why I really would appreciate your honest opinion! Another Question I have is if you can’t open/close it, how do you put it on/off? I don’t want to make a purchase of this price and not be able to fit it properly, or damage it! Its too beautiful not to be
able to wear it!

If you could please respond I would greatly appreciate it!
Sincerely Yours,

Hi Lisa,

You should never have to open and close a bracelet to put it on or take it off. Once you find the correct bracelet size and you use the right technique (roll it on), they go on and off without changing shape or size and they won’t be damaged or misshapen and they will last a lifetime !!

Read the last paragraph here to see how to properly put a cuff on and off.

and this will provide more info too


Once you have read those, if you can send me the dimensions of a cuff bracelet that you do have that fits you well – measure inside using a cloth tape measure or a piece of string and then measuring the string on a ruler. Send the inside measurement end to end and then also send the measurement of the gap (the space between the ends).


Then I can tell you if this bracelet might work for you.  It is so beautiful and unique !  But yes, if you open and close this bracelet like you do with your others, it will likely lose stones. That’s because the stones are set into the bracelet end to end conforming perfectly to the shape of the sterling silver. If you change the shape of the sterling silver by squeezing or opening it, the stones will become dislodged.



Native American Jewelry – Putting on a Cuff Bracelet

Hi Paula,
I have a question about the bracelets…
When putting a cuff bracelet on and off it has to be big enough to fit over your hand or the gap wide enough to fit on the narrowest/smallest part of your wrist.   That being said, how could a person wear a cuff bracelet above the wrist bone when it will naturally fall towards the hand when your arm is down and flop around when you move …  unless, you squeeze it tight (bend it) once on, and bend it open again to take it off.. ?  Is a cuff bracelet suppose to fit like a bangle bracelet and be loose (fall to the hand) or is it suppose to stay still (fitted) when you wear it?
I have a couple bracelets (western style) that I received as gifts.  I’ve been bending them to get them on and off so they don’t flop around so much but never bend them to a point where the gap is closed and it is fitted (stays between my hand and wrist bone)….  My wrist is 6 1/4″, bracelets are 6 3/4″ including gap.
Appreciate your reply.
Kindest regards,
Good questions Carolyn,
I’ll answer your queries specifically, but in the meantime, please read these two articles……..
After you’ve read them, let me know if some of your questions have been answered and if not, what the new ones are !

Hi again Carolyn,
First of all, a cuff bracelet is never put over the hand. If it would fit over the hand, it would be too big. Cuff bracelets are put on by utilizing the gap as described in the above referenced article.

How one wears a bracelet is entirely a matter of personal preference and taste. When I wear a group of bangle bracelets, I want them to be very loose and move up and down my wrist and lower arm as I move my arm and hands. Bangles are for days when metal clinking is not only good, but desired !

Sterling Silver Navajo Silverdust Bangle Bracelets

I also like to wear my link bracelets and link watches loose, that is so that they slide up and down my wrist.

Sterling Silver and 12K Gold Navajo Link Bracelet by Alonzo Mariano

As far as cuff bracelets, if they are narrow bracelets, I prefer to wear them low on my wrist – below the prominent wrist bone. If they are wider, then I like them over the top of the prominent wrist bone.

Example of Narrow Cuff - Sterling Silver and 14K Gold Continuous Water Bracelet by Bruce Morgan

Example of a Wide Cuff - Sterling Silver Sandcast and Kingman Turquoise Bracelet by Harrison Bitsui

There is a “sweet spot” in terms of bracelet size, gap and the person’s wrist size as to where a bracelet will “work”. If a bracelet is the right size, you can wear a cuff above your wrist and it will stay there. If it is too big, then, as you say, it will slip down.

From the dimensions you mention in your e-mail, it would seem almost impossible to keep that bracelet up above your wrist UNLESS you open it up to put it on, then squeeze the gap closed (eek!) once you get it on your wrist. Squeezing not only makes the bracelet misshapen but it can pop out inlay stones or loosen other stone settings. The bracelet below is made up of many small pieces of turquoise with sterling silver channel in between. If the bracelet below was spread open, then squeezed shut, the stone at the point of the bend would be lifted right out of their settings and popped out.

Zuni Turquoise Inlay Bracelet by Sheldon Lalio

So 6 3/4″ is too big for a 6 1/4″ wrist. You should be looking for a bracelet that is about 6 1/4″ total inside circumference which would be about 5 1/4″ from end to end inside and with a 1″ gap. That way you can put the bracelet on and off easily without opening and closing the gap.
Let me know if I can help further.


Native American Jewerly Materials – Opal

Hi Paula,

I think the opals used on bracelets are mostly (very pretty) Gilson opals. Am I right? I have a Thomas Francisco designed bracelet, and although nothing says synthetic, I think they must be, they really look like the Gilson opal pictures.


Opal Inlay Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Hi Susan,

Great question and a good topic. First of all, we’ve never seen Native American pieces that use natural or precious opal. As you will read below, part of the reason is the scarcity and availability of precious opal.

But the other factor is that when used in inlays or other settings, natural opal has a higher tendency to crack than lab or imitation opal. So when we purchase items with opal in them and ask the artists about the materials, about the opal, they reply “lab opal” but most opal used in Native American jewelry is actually imitation opal.


Opal has a latticework of spheres and spaces that play with light as it passes through  – something like a prism.

Light passes through the arrangement, speeding up and slowing down as the size of the spheres and spaces between them changes and as the the angle of view changes.

The longer light waves produce RED-PINK color hues.

Imitation Pink Opal

Imitation Pink Opal

The shorter waves produce the BLUE-GREEN color hues.

Imitation Blue Opal Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Imitation Blue Opal Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

So when you wear your opal jewelry indoors under various types of lights and outdoors under different light settings, you will see a change in the stones. Photographing opal to show its great variety is indeed a challenge !

Natural opal (also known as precious opal) contains between 3-10% water but can be as high as 20%

For technical information about natural opal.

More about Australian Opals.

Lab opal is considered a true synthetic or created opal – produced in controlled laboratory conditions and with the same chemical composition as natural opal but with a very low moisture content.

opa butterfly

Zuni Imitation Opal Butterfly Pin Pendant by Earline Edaackie

Some lab opals are more expensive to produce than the natural stone would cost. Lab opal is very resistant to breaking due to the fact it does not contain as much water as natural opal.

Multi-Color Opal Corn Row Watch by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Multi-Color Imitation Opal Corn Row Watch by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Gilson opal is the premier lab opal, the choice of many Native American artists.

Gilson opal production began in 1974 by Pierre Gilson when he discovered the ordered sphere structure that gives precious opal its light reflecting abilities. Laboratory production of opal is a highly complex process that can take over a year to complete. The colors are natural without color enhancement.

Imitation opal AKA artificial or simulated opal is different chemically from natural or lab opal. It is made up of 80% silica and 20% resin and is an economical option to both precious and lab opal.

Even when opal is not used as the main stone, but as an accent such as in this link bracelet, it brings a whole new dazzle to the piece.

Rhodochrosite, Opal and Mother of Pearl Inlay Braclet by Shirley Tso, Navajo

Rhodochrosite, Imitation Opal and Mother of Pearl Inlay Braclet by Shirley Tso, Navajo


Native American Materials – Fossilized Coral

What is fossilized coral?

Over time coral is replaced by agate, which cuts easily and takes a high polish. The fossilized coral stone shows small flowers on and within the stone. Colors range from cream to caramel to deep brown, various shades of gray, black, white and occasionally red.

Fossilized coral is used in Native American inlay bracelets, most notably Navajo. Here are a few examples.

Fossilized coral inlay bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Fossilized coral inlay bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Fossilized Coral Inlay Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Fossilized Coral Inlay Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Fossilized Coral Inlay Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo

Fossilized Coral Inlay Bracelet by Thomas Francisco, Navajo