Native American Pin Vest

In days gone by, small to medium pins were commonly worn on blazer lapels, sweaters, coats, jackets, scarves. clutch purses and hats…………pins were a fashion staple.

See the slide show below for samples of classic Navajo pins.

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A brooch is a large decorative piece of jewelry pinned to a sweater or dress to complete and outfit and make a bold statement. Large grandmother pins can be thought of as a brooch.

 

Native American artists have made many styles of pins over the years and continue to do so today.  They range in size from tie tacks and hat pins all the way up to large petit point pins and employ all types of animals, symbols and designs.

See the slide show below for samples of Zuni, Hopi and Navajo symbols.

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Although I have written about ways to use pins in previous blog posts, truth be told, I rarely use pins unless it is as a pendant, using a pin-to-pendant converter.

See these articles:

Pins Make a Comeback

Native American Pins 

Native American Pins Beautify Handbags

Like many Native American jewelry aficionados, I have accumulated quite a few pins and rather than just look at them in a drawer or box, I decided to use a denim vest to display some of them.

See the slide show below for examples of animal pins.

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Butterfly pins are popular by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Cluster and grandmother pins are made by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Paula

Book Look: Zuni Fetishes and Carvings by Kent McManis

We have many fetish reference books in the store but the one I reach for first is “Zuni Fetishes and Carvings” by Kent McManis.

There is a first edition (left) and second edition (right)

The first 37 pages are devoted to “The Power of the Fetish” and discuss the symbolism and usage of the various fetishes. The section is organized by animals and human forms: owls, badgers, maidens to mention just a few.

Claudia Peina – Zuni
Warrior Maiden Carving

The next 34 pages discuss the various materials the Zuni artists use in carving and decorating their fetishes.

Emery Boone – Zuni
Horse Fetish Carving of Pipestone with inlay

The next few pages discuss the art of carving.

Antler carving of eagle taking rabbit

The next 55 pages are devoted to the Zuni carving families telling a brief history of the family. Each family section includes a detailed family tree. There are also examples of pieces made by various members of each family.

An ammonite bear by the Laiwakete family.

The book closes with a brief guide to collecting, indexes and so on.  See the slide show below of various buffalo fetish carvings.

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This is a valuable book for the Zuni fetish collector.

Paula

Sadly we lost our mentor and friend Kent McManis earlier this year. His passion lives on and he is held in high regard.

Native American Pins Beautify Handbags

If you are like me and have been a Native American jewelry aficionado for years, you likely have a drawer full of beautiful pins – in my case they are Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Lakota pins that haven’t seen the light of day for a while.

I do wear a pin on a shirt every now and then but they really need to be showcased more often.

One way to feature a large pin is solo on a special handbag. Here is a gorgeous 3″ x 2 1/4″ vintage pin on a stunning Estellon bag from France (the clutch was a gift from a dear friend in Paris and I had the perfect large pin for it!).

Below are a few large pins that would be perfect for solo use on a handbag.

Another way to showcase a large group is to round up all your horses and pin them onto a fabric bag.

This incredibly cool denim handbag was made from a pair of Wrangler jeans and just cries out for horse pins !  Alright, maybe I overloaded it, but nobody wanted to be left out!

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Here are some horse pins like the ones I have on my bag. Click to see more.

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Happy Pinning !! Paula

Book Look: Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One Harry P. Mera

This book, written by the late Dr. Harry P. Mera (1875-1951) illustrates the features of silverwork in the southwest from its inception to the late 1930s.

Except for a very few pages, most of the 122 pages have two black and white photos, some of which are group photos so many items are pictured. Here is the table of contents:

Some examples of the pages follow. Click on the photos to find similar pieces in our store.

Paula

How Can I Tell My Ring Size?

Hi Paula,

I love the pinky ring size 3 1/2 but how can I tell my ring size?

Size 3 1/2 ring by Benson Ration

Karen

Hi Karen,

The best way is to take a ring that fits well to a jeweler and have them measure it on their ring sizer.

Measuring on a ring sizer

Alternatively, you can measure your finger and use the chart on our website to find the proper ring size. (I’ve posted the chart below.)

Ernest Shirley

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

A good way to find your comfortable ring size is to find a ring that fits and measure its inside diameter, the distance across the center of the opening. Then find that measurement in the left column of the chart below and follow that row to the right to see your ring size. You could also measure your finger’s circumference with a cloth tape measure or string and then measure that with a ruler and compare it to inside circumference in the table. Also, most jewelers have a set of sizing rings that you can slip on your fingers to find your ring size. Just as with bracelets, if you are buying a WIDE ring, you will need to buy a little bit bigger ring than you would if you were buying a ring with a narrow band.

Ring Size Chart

 <  Shopping  <   All Jewelry  <  New Rings  <  Pawn Rings

Inside
Dia.
inches
Inside
Dia.
mm
Inside
Circum.
inches
Inside
Circum.
mm
Number Sizes:
US/Canada
Letter Sizes:
British, Irish,
Australian
Japanese Swiss
0.458 11.6 1.438 36.5 0
0.466 11.8 1.463 37.2 1/4
0.474 12.0 1.488 37.8 1/2 A
0.482 12.2 1.513 38.4 3/4 A 1/2
0.490 12.4 1.539 39.1 1 B 1
0.498 12.6 1.564 39.7 1 1/4 B 1/2
0.506 12.9 1.589 40.4 1 1/2 C
0.514 13.1 1.614 41.0 1 3/4 C 1/2
0.522 13.3 1.639 41.6 2 D 2 1.50
0.530 13.5 1.664 42.3 2 1/4 D 1/2
0.538 13.7 1.689 42.9 2 1/2 E 3 2.75
0.546 13.9 1.714 43.5 2 3/4 E 1/2
0.554 14.1 1.740 44.2 3 F 4 4.00
0.562 14.3 1.765 44.8 3 1/4 F 1/2 5 5.25
0.570 14.5 1.790 45.5 3 1/2 G
0.578 14.7 1.815 46.1 3 3/4 G 1/2 6 6.50
0.586 14.9 1.840 46.7 4 7
0.594 15.1 1.865 47.4 4 1/4 H 1/2 7.75
0.602 15.3 1.890 48.0 4 1/2 8
0.610 15.5 1.915 48.7 4 3/4 J 9.00
0.618 15.7 1.941 49.3 5 J 1/2 9
0.626 15.9 1.966 49.9 5 1/4 K 10.00
0.634 16.1 1.991 50.6 5 1/2 K 1/2 10
0.642 16.3 2.016 51.2 5 3/4 L 11.75
0.650 16.5 2.041 51.8 6 L 1/2 11 12.75
0.658 16.7 2.066 52.5 6 1/4 12
0.666 16.9 2.091 53.1 6 1/2 M 1/2 13 14.00
0.674 17.1 2.116 53.8 6 3/4 N
0.682 17.3 2.141 54.4 7 N 1/2 14 15.25
0.690 17.5 2.167 55.0 7 1/4
0.698 17.7 2.192 55.7 7 1/2 O 1/2 15 16.50
0.706 17.9 2.217 56.3 7 3/4
0.714 18.1 2.242 56.9 8 P 1/2 16 17.75
0.722 18.3 2.267 57.6 8 1/4
0.730 18.5 2.292 58.2 8 1/2 Q 1/2 17
0.738 18.7 2.317 58.9 8 3/4 R 19
0.746 18.9 2.342 59.5 9 R 1/2 18
0.754 19.2 2.368 60.1 9 1/4 S 20.25
0.762 19.4 2.393 60.8 9 1/2 S 1/2 19
0.770 19.6 2.418 61.4 9 3/4 T 21.5
0.778 19.8 2.443 62.1 10 T 1/2 20
0.786 20.0 2.468 62.7 10 1/4 U 21
0.794 20.2 2.493 63.3 10 1/2 U 1/2 22 22.75
0.802 20.4 2.518 64.0 10 3/4 V
0.810 20.6 2.543 64.6 11 V 1/2 23
0.818 20.8 2.569 65.2 11 1/4 W 25
0.826 21.0 2.594 65.9 11 1/2 W 1/2 24
0.834 21.2 2.619 66.5 11 3/4 X
0.842 21.4 2.644 67.2 12 X 1/2 25 27.50
0.850 21.6 2.669 67.8 12 1/4
0.858 21.8 2.694 68.4 12 1/2 Z 26 28.75
0.866 22.0 2.719 69.1 12 3/4 Z 1/2
0.874 22.2 2.744 69.7 13 27
0.882 22.4 2.769 70.3 13 1/4 Z1
0.890 22.6 2.795 71.0 13 1/2
0.898 22.8 2.820 71.6 13 3/4 Z2
0.906 23.0 2.845 72.3 14 Z3
0.914 23.2 2.870 72.9 14 1/4
0.922 23.4 2.895 73.5 14 1/2 Z4
0.930 23.6 2.920 74.2 14 3/4
0.938 23.8 2.945 74.8 15
0.946 24.0 2.970 75.4 15 1/4
0.954 24.2 2.996 76.1 15 1/2
0.962 24.4 3.021 76.7 15 3/4
0.970 24.6 3.046 77.4 16

Paula

Paula busy at work

Southwest Native American Rings

A few years back a woman wrote me saying:

“I am looking for one of those turquoise indian rings.”

I thought, “Gee……..where do I start”……….?? So I asked her to describe the one she was looking for and she said “like a wedding band”. I immediately thought of the Zuni inlay rings that have been popular for many years and sold all over the southwest. I sent her this photo and she said – “Exactly”.

Phew, that was an easy one.

Shortly after that a man wrote asking for a ring like he saw in Thunderheart (the movie)

Now there I had a better idea of what he was looking for since I have watched that movie a dozen times and even got my husband a ring like the big turquoise oval one in the movie.

1 3/8″ turquoise ring by the late M. NARANJO, Tewa

However, there were at least 4 different types of rings in the movie, so I devoted a blog article to answer his question in detail – to see examples of the 4 rings in the movie, click the link below.

I want to get a ring like I saw in the movie Thunderheart

Over the years I have helped a number of people find the ring of their dreams. But I thought one way to further help would be to categorize, describe and show photos of some of the more commonly made types of Native American rings, thus creating a vocabulary of sorts to allow a dialogue to get started.

MATERIALS

In most cases, Native American rings are made from sterling silver – you can read about silver by clicking the link below to my blog post:

Jewelry Silver – Not All Silver is Created Equal

Some rings are solely made of sterling. But the vast majority also feature stones, shells and other materials.

Here is a list of commonly used materials in Native American rings: (I have written articles about some of the materials, so you can click on those that are hyperlinks to learn more). To read about other materials, look in the right hand column of the home page of this blog and you’ll see an outline of article topics – scroll to Materials – there are plenty more materials listed there.

Acoma Jet
Bear Claws and other claws
Coral
Gaspeite
Jasper
Lapis Lazuli
Mother of Pearl
Onyx
Opal (natural and imitation)
Malachite
Petrified Wood
Spiny Oyster (orange and purple)
Tiger Eye
Turquoise
White Buffalo Stone

TRIBAL STYLES

Generally southwest Native American rings are made by Navajo, Zuni or Hopi jewelers.

In VERY general terms, I’ll first describe the types of rings associated with each tribe but I’ll provide much more detail throughout this article.

Navajo rings are typically a sterling silver band, often heavy and/or elaborate. The band can be silver only or have stones that are set with various types of bezels.  For more information on bezels, read my article  Types of Bezels  If a Navajo ring is inlaid, the inlay pieces are usually separated by silver channels.

Zuni rings are usually either stone-on-stone inlays (no silver channels in between the pieces), snake rings, snake eyepetit point or needlepoint. 

Hopi rings are most often sterling silver overlays with contrasting (oxidized) and textured backgrounds.

NAVAJO RINGS

There are a number of ring styles that are associated with Navajo silversmiths. I’ll mention some of the most common and popular.

Storyteller

One traditional style of Navajo silver ring is a storyteller. Individual scenes depicting daily life are cut out of a sheet of silver and layed over an oxidized background.

Storyteller bracelets show Navajo life. The home (hogan) and the activities around the home such as cooking, weaving, tending livestock, driving a wagon to town. The scenery of the area such as buttes, trees and shrubs and sometimes clouds are also depicted.

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Silver

There is nothing better for everyday wear than a well-made silver Navajo ring. Below is a slide show depicting some popular silver Navajo ring styles including stamped, repousse, overlay and more. Click here to see more silver rings.

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Sandcast

Sand cast and tufa cast items are made using a mold into which molten silver is poured. Click to read more about Cast Jewelry, To see more cast rings, click here

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Single Stone Turquoise

Possibly the most iconic Navajo ring is the single turquoise stone. Put one on and you feel like a million dollars. Below is a wonderful array of single stone turquoise rings, both polished cabochons and nuggets. To see more turquoise rings, click here.

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Single Stone Other

When you need a Jet or Mother of Pearl or Lapis ring to go with your outfit, you will likely be able to find a beautiful Navajo single stone ring to fit the bill. To see more single stone rings, click here

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Cluster

Cluster refers to a group of stones usually set in a circular or oval pattern. While often associated with Zuni artists, there are a number of Navajo smiths that have made cluster rings over the years. To see the cluster rings we have for sale, click here 

Turquoise and Coral

A very popular color combination is coral and turquoise together. Turquoise is a happy stone by itself – add a dash of coral and you’ll just be giddy ! Very classic and classy. To see the turquoise and coral rings we have to offer, click here

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MOP and Other Shell

Mother of Pearl, Pink Shell, Abalone, Paua Shell and other shells add a bit of gleam and glitter to a ring. To see more examples, click here.  

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Claw

Claw rings are a popular design, especially with men, The claws can be real or faux claws and traditionally are bear but can also be from smaller animals like coyotes. To see more examples of bear claw rings, click here.

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Silver Channel Inlay

Navajo inlay usually features silver channels between pieces of stone. Click here to see more.

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Inlay

Although pictorial inlay is more commonly associated with Zuni artists, there are a number of Navajo that make beautiful and unique inlay rings. Click here to see vintage Navajo rings. 

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Corn Row, Cobblestone and Mosaic Inlay

Three types of inlay that are somewhat similar are Mosaic Inlay (click the link to go to a separate article), Corn Row and Cobblestone inlay. They are a more 3 dimensional type of inlay than the flat inlay of Zuni artists.

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Shadowbox

The shadowbox technique consists of a cutout top layer that is usually (but not always) domed and that is soldered to a solid bottom layer with or without a dark contrasting background. The shadowbox might be all silver or incorporate stones.

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Leaf and Feather

A very popular design style for Navajo rings, especially those made for the tourist trade, is the incorporation of a leaf or feather along with the other silver work or stones. The leaves and feather might be hand made or the could be ready-made cast pieces that the silversmith purchases from a trading post and adds onto the ring. Some wrap around rings are made of a single feather. To see many examples of leaf and feather rings, click here.

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Cigar Band

Cigar band style refers to a wide band with stamping. To read more about this style, click on my post- What is a Cigar Band Ring? 

Here is an example of a cigar band ring using White Buffalo Stone. It was made by Tony Garcia. 

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ZUNI RINGS

Zuni rings are usually one of 4 types: Inlay, Petit Point, Needlepoint and Snake Eye.

Inlay

Zuni inlay is usually stone-on-stone inlay, that is, the stone or shell pieces touch each other, there is no silver channel work in between. However, just as I say that, you will see below some examples of Zuni inlay that does incorporate silver channels. There are no hard and fast rules – just generalizations.

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Petit Point

Petit Point is comprised of long, narrow teardrop-shaped stones and possibly round dots.

Needlepoint 

Needlepoint is comprised of straight, long, narrow stones that are pointed on both ends. Here are examples of needlepoint rings:

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Snake Eye

Snake Eye rings are comprised of many tiny spherical cabochons of turquoise (usually). You can read more about Snake Eye in my article

Here is a 100 stone snake eye ring by April and Peter Halloo, Zuni

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Here are more examples of snake eye rings:

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Snake Rings

Some Zuni families, most notably that of Effie Calavaza, make snake motif rings.

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HOPI RINGS

Hopi rings are traditionally overlay with contrasting (oxidized) and texturized backgrounds. Sometimes the designs are easily recognizable animal and other natural elements, other times they are abstracts.

Here is an example of a Hopi overlay ring by Raymond Kyasyousie.

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More hopi ring examples:

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To read more about rings, here is an interesting book that I reviewed here on this blog:

Book Look: Southwestern Indian Rings by Paula A. Baxter

 

Paula

Knifewing – Native American Diety

Who is Knifewing?

Knifewing, also Knife Wing, is a half man – half eagle Zuni spirit or god with razor sharp feathers made of flint. He is the ultimate warrior.

Unmarked vintage knifewing pin

Anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, who lived with the Zunis from 1879-1884 described knifewing this way:

“This curious god is the hero of hundreds of folklore tales, the tutelary deity of several societies of Zuni. He is represented as possessing a human form, furnished with flint knife-feathered pinions, and tail. His dress consists of the conventional terraced cap (representative of his dwelling place among the clouds). His weapons are the Great Flint-Knife of War, the Bow of the Skies (the Rainbow), and the Arrow of Lightning. His guardians or warriors are the Great Mountain Lion of the North and that of the upper regions. He was doubtless the original War God of the Zunis.”

From the Encyclopedia of Native American Jewelry by Paula Baxter:

Baxter

Baxter

From North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment by Dubin

Dubin

Dubin

Horace Iule (also known for his crosses) is credited with creating the first knifewing design in the late 1920s, cut and filed out of hand-wrought silver.

Read more about Horace Iule in The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths by Adair

Adair

Adair

Adair

Afterwards, other Zuni, Navajo and Pueblo began producing knifewing designs.

The knifewing became one of the first designs that the Zuni inlaid with stones. An interesting excerpt from Zuni – a Village of Silversmiths

Zuni – a Village of Silversmiths

In this slide show, there are three vintage kinfewing inlay bracelet examples. To see more details on them, visit our Vintage Bracelet section. 

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Below is a slide show of a Sterling silver box with inlay knifewing by Suzie James Navajo

Paula

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