Native American artists made the original Southwestern Native Earrings with turquoise and shell beads that were often two or three inches long or more. The beads were strung on a cotton string put through a hole in the ear lobe. Both men and women wore these earrings, which are very similar to the works of current Santo Domingo artist Ray Lovato, except they hang by silver wires!
After the Navajo and Zuni began to work in silver about 150 years ago, it was natural that they started to craft new earrings and other jewelry of the new material and decorate these pieces with turquoise stones. It's much easier to put on an earring with a silver hook than to put a string through your ear and tie it!
Navajo artist Fritson Toledo was a contemporary jeweler who met one of the legends in our business, Robert Gallegos, when Gallegos was looking for a good silversmith to do some special projects for him. Gallegos wrote a great book on Antique earrings, Navajo and Pueblo Earrings 1850-1945, documenting his collection.
Gallegos showed Toledo some of the old styles, and the silversmith became excited about them. Since then, Toledo has worked at creating beautiful antique-style Navajo jewelry. He uses traditional stamps and tools except for a soldering torch.
One of his specialties is recreating the style of the old chandelier earrings. We just received an excellent selection of these gorgeous pieces. Very few pieces of jewelry are more elegant than this style of earring!