Jeanette Dale and her husband Harry live on the Navajo Nation, about halfway between Gallup and Shiprock, off to the west of the highway near a beautiful rock formation. For about fifty years, she has been known to dealers in Indian jewelry as one of the best and least-known Navajo silversmiths.


Navajo Kingman Turquoise and Silver Bolo Tie

In the 1970s, she was soldering circuit boards for missile guidance systems at a factory south of Farmington. When the operation closed down, her mother suggested she try silversmithing. Her mom and one of her brothers were accomplished silversmiths.

She went to Gallup and got some silver and a piece of turquoise and, using her mom's equipment,  made her first ring. "I showed it to a trader, and he bought it and ordered more, so that's how that started," says Jeanette.

"He also told me always to make a small mistake so that it looks like it's handmade, so I still do that."

She may, but I usually can't find that mistake!


Navajo Damale Turquoise and Sterling Bolo Tie

She loves making jewelry but has no interest in standing in a booth and selling it. Three dealers in the Southwest distribute her work, and many of the country's best stores and museum shops feature her jewelry. She has won top awards at the Gallup Ceremonial when traders entered the pieces. She would never enter a piece of jewelry herself.

She is a traditional Navajo silversmith, decorating heavy silver with intricate stamp work and leaf work. And she is an addict: a Stone Addict. She will drive a couple of hundred miles to get the perfect stone for a project she is working on. The turquoise, lapis, coral, or other material she uses is always top-grade.


Navajo Kingman Turquoise and Silver Bolo Tie

We keep an eye out for good turquoise for her to use, but more than once, I've shown her something I think would make a lovely bracelet or some piece of jewelry and watched her shake her head politely, saying, "I don't think so."

She likes making bolo ties. Bolos are perfect for showing off a quality stone. Men are the obvious customers for this neckwear, but more women are wearing them as necklaces.

The very special bolo tie at the top of this blog post was made by Jeanette with an amazing piece of turquoise. The stone is a large piece of Kingman Spiderweb. Stones of this quality and size are very hard to find. The tips are set with matching stones from the same nugget. This stone was cut back in the 1980s by Phillip Zachery, one of the most famous stone cutters and dealers in turquoise. He was also a master silversmith and had put these stones in a desk set that held a pen and letter opener, but when we were given the set to sell, the silver leaves in the design had been damaged beyond repair.

Ever on the lookout for great stones, Jeanette said, “Why don’t you let me take that stone and make something out of it?”

I agreed, and the result was this magnificent bolo tie!


Navajo Silver and Heavy Stamping Bolo Tie

I like them as they work for casual or formal occasions. If you wear to traditional Windsor knotted tie to some event, no one ever walks up and says, "Wow, that is a great tie!"  Or at least it never happened to me! But if you are wearing a bolo tie, people will notice.

Jeanette makes her own unique tips and uses silver wire for the backs of her bolos. Her pieces have no commercial parts, and she puts them on substantial woven leather cords.The silver work will differ from one to another, but every stone is unique and special.

See all Jewelry by Jeanette Dale in the Gallery

We have a great selection of her bolos right now and thought you might enjoy seeing this work by one of the best traditional Navajo silversmiths!