What does “snake eye” refer to in Native American jewelry?

I love snake eye jewelry and when I use the term I have found that even long-time Native American jewelry enthusiasts don’t know what I mean.

Snake eye is a technique of setting very small spherical pieces of turquoise. It is somewhat related to petit point and needle point but different in shape and much smaller.

Although these techniques began with Zuni artists around 1930-1940, today they are associated with both Zuni and Navajo jewelers.

All 3 techniques use cabochons, which are small stones that have been rounded on top (not faceted) and polished. It is the shape that differs.

Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words. Some examples……..first of PETIT POINT – teardrop shaped – round on one end, pointed on the  other.

Petit Point stick barrette by Navajo Zeita Begay, contemporary

Petit Point set by Phillip and Virginia Byjoe – Navajo, Vintage

Petit Point Cuff by Johnny Mike Begay, Navajo, Vintage

NOW ON TO NEEDLEPOINT – long and narrow, pointed on both ends.

Needle Point Zuni Bracelet and Ring by EVA L WYACO, contemporary

Needle Point barrette by Nathaniel Nez – Navajo, contemporary

And finally to SNAKE EYE – the reason for this post in the first place. Spherical.  These can range from small to tiny. Here are several examples of snake eye jewelry in various sizes.

Large Snake Eye – Ring by Elanda Wyaco – Zuni, vintage

Medium Snake Eye – Bolo by Bernall Natewa, Zuni, vintage

Tiny Snake Eye – Link bracelet by Stephen Haloo, Zuni, contemporary

So now that you are an expert, what would you call the ones in the photos below?

Paula

 

Who made this Petit Point necklace?

This sterling silver and turquoise petit point necklace arrived in an estate collection that had some museum quality, authentic Native American pieces in it. The woman who had owned the collection had a very good eye and had some amazing vintage Native American pieces she collected over the years. So if one judged this necklace by the company it kept, it would be thought to be Zuni or Navajo made. I showed it to some experienced dealers and collectors who thought it was an exceptional piece.  They felt the workmanship was very good.

What do you think?

From the beginning, although it looked very carefully made, it didn’t look Native American to me – it looked like it was made in another country.  So I took a close look……………

Who made this petit point necklace?

Who made this petit point necklace?

There were a few elements that I had never seen in a Zuni or Navajo petit point piece before.

The trapezoid piece above the central medallion was something I had not seen before.......

The trapezoid piece above the central medallion was a shape I had not seen before nor were the attachment loops. The trapezoid reminded me of India, Nepal ……….??

The overall look of the collar wings didn't quite have the Native American look to me........

The overall style of the collar wings didn’t quite have the Native American look to me……..

And while the embellished links above the collar looked nice, again, I had not seen that particular element before............

And while the embellished links above the collar were a beautiful addition, again, I had not seen that particular element before…………

The hand made chain was really nice and did look like some NA made chains I had seen........but wait.........what's that on the end??!!

The hand made chain was really nice and did look like some NA made chains I had seen……..but wait………what’s that on the end??!!

A maker's disc that says 925 (designation of sterling silver) and PHILIPPINES !!!

A maker’s disc that says 925 (designation of sterling silver) and PHILIPPINES !!!

If you were fooled, don’t feel bad. A number of very experienced collectors and dealers had looked at this piece and had not suspected it was an import.

It is very rare for an import to have a tag declaring the country of origin like this. Usually you have to be a super sleuth to spot the items that are imported and presented as Native American made. The fraudsters are getting very good at being bad – they copy designs and hallmarks to a T.

Jewelry made in the Philippines, also called Filipino-Made Jewelry, is a severe detriment to the livelihood of authentic Native American artists. In 2015 there was a federal sting operation that identified sellers who were fraudulently presenting imported jewelry as Native American made. You can read about it by clicking the link below.

Three New Mexicans Charged with Fraudulently Selling Filipino-Made Jewelry as Native American-Made

Keep your eyes and ears open, learn all you can. Buy wisely and enjoy !!

Paula

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What is the purpose of this piece of jewelry?

May 5, 2014
Hi Paula,
I have a piece of jewelry and am unsure of it’s  purpose  It is circular, 3 inches in diameter, Zuni style inlay on sterling silver. There is a round center piece, surrounded by two outer layers of tear drop shaped turquoise, There are four  loops  at equal distance around the  back perimeter edge.
I do not know if it might be a grandmother’s pin or a bolo, or a pendent. The pawn tag is still attached but simply reads pawn 1969.
Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.
Becky
photo 1 photo 2June 23, 2014
Hi Becky,
To me it looks like it could be either Zuni or Navajo made in a Zuni style.
It is a classic petit point cluster.
I think it is intended to be sewn onto clothing or a costume – perhaps used on a head piece, a wrist band, belt or sash.
NPP420-cluster-turq-stead-1

Maybe other readers have some other ideas as to its use.
Paula
To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm
If you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm
Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm
NPN714-cluster-wilson-1

Zuni Grandmother Pin – Justin Wilson

Are Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez Zuni or Navajo?

Hi Paula
Could you tell me if Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez, are of the Zuni  tribes ~~  I see they do a lot of petite point and needle point in their work.  My friend say’s they are Navajo, she has a needle point bracelet etched N & R  Nez, which makes me think are they Navajo, but do Zuni style work.  I know this sounds stupid to you, but would really love to know, who told her they were Navajo.
Sincerely Patricia
HI Patricia,
Good question and you are not the first to ask.
Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez are Navajo artists who do petite point and needle point in Zuni style.
BAR740-stick-needlepoint-turq-nez-3

Navajo Needlepoint

Paula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htmIf you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-B2-400h

Zuni Needlepoint

What can you tell me about this ring I found in my husband’s grandmother’s old jewelry?

Hi Paula
I was going through my husbands grandmothers old jewelry and found a silver and turquoise ring. There appears to be a marking of some sort on the back. It looks like it says “SH ZUNI”. Is there any info you can tell me about his piece or can you point me in the direction to find out more about it. I can send pictures if you would like. Thank you for your time!
Charity
IMG_20140324_101002 IMG_20140324_101015Hi Charity,
That is the hallmark of Sharon Hustito, a Zuni artist who specializes in Petit Point.
Click to read about Petit Point and look at similar rings by clicking the photo below.
NR334-petit-dishta-1Paula
To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htmIf you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htmVisit our pawn shop for your research and shopping
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm
PP307-turq-petit-1

A Glimpse into the Zuni Needlepoint Workshop

All those tiny little pieces……how does it all get done……here is a peek inside the workshop of Zuni artist Bryant Waatsa, Sr.

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WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-B2-400h WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-tip-175wExcerpts from Silver & Stone by Mark Bahti

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Navajo or Zuni Grandmother Pin

Native American Grandmother Pin

©  2010 Horsekeeping © Copyright Information

Hand made Native American Indian Jewelry; Navajo Sterling Silver  horse pin pendant

When you need a special gift for you Mother, Grandmother, wife or girlfriend, think of a Grandmother Pin.

The Grandmother Pin (also known as a Mother Pin or a Cluster Pin) is a stone cluster pin (or pin-pendant) made by a Navajo or Zuni artist. It is meant to symbolize the matriarch of the family at the center with the family members and their families radiating outward. Traditionally a cluster pin is made of turquoise, but occasionally we will see an all coral or other stone cluster pin.