There is something about the look of old Navajo Jewelry. It has a classic feel, made at a time when the style of the jewelry was not influenced by current fashion and artists didn’t have access to modern tools and materials.
Don’t get me wrong, I love contemporary jewelry, but there isn’t anything more elegant than a hand-crafted silver piece with quality turquoise.
I have a friend in Albuquerque we’ve done business with for over thirty years. He recently came upon a stash of natural high-quality turquoise that was cut and ready to put into jewelry.
Several years before, he had written a book on classic Indian Jewelry, specifically on earrings. The stones that he bought were such classic turquoise that he decided it would be fun to recreate some of the old styles.
The problem, of course, was finding a silversmith that could make it in the old style. It’s a long story, but he knew a Navajo jeweler by the name of Fritson Toledo who is known for his contemporary work. He showed Fritson some of the old jewelry in his collection to get the jeweler’s response.
Toledo was really impressed with the quality of the work and wondered at how the old smiths could make such incredible jewelry with the old tools, soldering equipment, and material they had to work with.
He agreed to re-create some pieces in the old style. It is exciting to see what came off his work bench.
The combination of classic stamps, hand twisted wire and hand pounded silver set with natural turquoise along with Fritson’s artistic ability has produced classic “old” jewelry.
The rings look like pieces that were made in the 1800s, the simple silver bracelets, with beautiful stamp work just look like they belong on the wrist of a Navajo from that time period.
And, if you or someone you know loves long dangle earrings that just radiate class, you are going to love what he made.
The nice thing about Indian jewelry is that great styles never go out of fashion. In fact, they go beyond fashion.
They are wearable history.