Repair of my Beloved Chester Mahooty Inlay Bracelet

I received a beautiful old bracelet years ago and sadly one day a piece of inlay disappeared.  I was nervous about shipping the bracelet to someone to fix………that is until I met Diane Radeke (see contact info at the end of the article.)

Here is my personal repair story with a happy happy ending.

Hi Diane,

I have a special inlay bracelet that is missing one piece of inlay which I think might be ivory – cream colored, not white. What do you think? What would it cost to repair this one? Paula

Chester Mahooty bracelet with missing inlay piece.

Hi Paula,

You’re bracelet is so unusual – I just love it! We usually charge about $20 to replace 1 missing stone. But there are many factors that affect that price:

size  – a big stone costs more

type – rare stones like red coral or Bisbee turquoise cost more

number of stones being replaced – 10 needlepoint stones in the same piece might cost only $15 per stone

whether the customer still has the original stone – that might only be $10 for resetting

whether or not any additional work needs to be done in order to repair the setting.

That’s why we always like to examine a piece before giving a firm quote. Of course there is also the shipping charges back and forth that a customer needs to pay.

For your piece, we don’t have ivory, and I’m not sure we could get it. There are, however, some shells that have a creamy appearance and might work nicely in this instance. I believe we also have a white coral that has that creamier appearance, without going into the orange tones. If you can get a piece of ivory, we can cut it and set it. I can see that your center coral has a little issue, too. If it’s not uneven on the surface, it might not be a problem, but if you’d want us to replace that, it would be $25 (red coral is expensive, but we do use the real thing – not dyed).

Hi again Diane,

The bracelet is a 1960s or early 1970s Zuni inlay cuff by the late Chester Mahooty.

On the bracelet, the only thing I want done is to have the one cream piece of missing inlay replaced. Maybe it was ivory (I think ivory was still available at the time he made this as was the tortoise shell that is also in the piece). Since ivory isn’t an option, you suggested using a similar ivory colored shell to match the piece on the opposite side? You’ll see he used cream and white inlay but it is the cream piece that is missing.

I do not want the chipped red coral circle at the top of his tail repaired– just leave it as is. And please don’t buff or polish the piece. I want to keep the patina as is. (See my recent post about cleaning vintage jewelry.)

Hi Paula,

Your bracelet arrived here safe and sound.

First, I feel very clear on what you want for your bracelet, which is a beauty! I love the stamped sides. We will do our best to match with something. The guys are willing to look through their personal stashes to see what they can come up with. Henry will do the inlay a little differently to avoid any errant polishing. They usually would grind the surface of the stone after setting it into the bracelet, but he will cut and finish the stone completely out of the setting, then glue it in. The stone will be a little thinner (depth-wise, but you won’t see it) than doing it the regular way, but this will ensure that the bracelet never gets near the grinder. I do need to mention that there is a crack in the bird’s head, kind of through his eye and cheek, another crack in the turquoise chest, the chip previously mentioned in the coral belly, and a couple of other teeny tiny chips and cracks. Nothing unusual nor in need of repair – I just like to mention these things before it goes back into the shop so you’re aware. I’ll have the guys alert me if they see any weak settings, but I don’t believe they will. The rest of the settings look very good to me.

Fitting the stone

Hi Diane !!!

I received my bracelet and I am so happy. Thank you so much for your good care and Henry’s excellent work !  I have more items to send you. Paula

Here is the contact for the silversmith that did the work on my bracelet and who we use for all the repairs in our store:
Diane Radeke
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078


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 Jewelry – Appraisal and Investment

I love your blogs and all the insightful information. You’re doing a great job and a great service to those of trying to learn.

So, what does it normally cost to get an item appraised? How do you go about finding a trustworthy appraiser?

Basically, I’m gathering that you should buy what you love and if you’re given something or inherit something and you don’t love it, then find out the price, sell it and move on with life. But certainly, by all means, do not do something silly like buy Native American turquoise jewelry based on the investment idea. Correct?

Hi Terri,

Thanks. It is a labor of love, so its good to hear it is helpful and appreciated!

First question – how much does it cost to get an item of Native American jewelry appraised? From free to whatever the person charges. And a $200 appraisal does not necessarily mean it is better than a free one. With Native American jewelry, there are few certified appraisers but there are many knowledgeable people who can see quite a number of important details in a few minutes.

Second question – how to find a trustworthy appraiser? That’s a good question and one that I can’t answer with specific names. To find a certified appraiser, you might contact several of your local jewelers and ask for referrals. I typed in “native american jewelry appraiser” in google and there were quite a few interesting leads.

I am not an appraiser but more of an educator, sharing knowledge that I’ve gained from years in the business.

Final Question: Yes, buy what you love and enjoy wearing it. If you are given something that is not you, if it is a modest gift, you can regift it to someone who would appreciate it or if of significant value, sell or trade.

But as far as investment potential, I’d have to say yes and no. For the newer, less expensive pieces, buy them for the joy they bring to own and use and perhaps pass on to someone in your family.

Only if you are in the market for high end contemporary pieces or older, more valuable pieces and you have the knowledge and experience to know the difference between trash and treasures, should you consider Native American jewelry and art as an investment. Native American jewelry that was made in the 60s, 70s and 80s (and certainly before that) was often made with turquoise from mines no longer producing today. The silverwork was totally handmade, so these pieces have a greater value to a collector. There are many people who buy and resell collectible pieces of Native American art such as pottery, baskets, blankets and jewelry. But it is a field, like any other that requires knowledge or an experienced mentor.

I’m going to give you some examples. First using contemporary jewelry. Below is an example of an item that should be purchased for the joy of use, but not as an investment expecting future returns.

Native American Coral and Turquoise Bracelet by Albert Jake, Navajo

In contrast, below is a bracelet that could be purchased, carefully used or put away and then resold in the future for a profit. It is investment quality.

Inlay Double Spinner Bracelet by Don Carlos Dewa, Zuni

Now moving to used items, first here is an example of an older item that should be purchased to use and enjoy.

Vintage Zuni Turquoise Petit Point Bracelet

And here is a bracelet that has value to a collector so could be purchased as an investment.

Zuni Inlay Bracelet by Paula Panteah

If you browse the sold sections of the pawn shop (the bottom of each section page) you will see various pieces that have sold and there is a wide range from user friendly prices to investment quality items.

Horsekeeping Pawn Shop and Bargain Barn