Navajo artist Fritson Toledo makes some incredible jewelry that looked like it could have come out of the early 1900s.
That is not easy to do. Most jewelers today use fabricated material, triangle wire, sheet silver, commercial stamps and other items that are available in the silver supply stores of Gallup and Farmington.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and contemporary jewelers should have the ability to use the best equipment and material they can.
This debate has gone on for a long time. For years, the Indian Arts and Craft Board and the Gallup Ceremonial would not accept jewelry made with gold as it wasn’t “traditional.” Stones like lapis were frowned on.
I remember a particularly heated debate at a board meeting of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association about whether any cast jewelry that wasn’t sand or tufa cast should be allowed in their markets.
People like Ben Nighthorse and Ray Tracy put that argument to rest.
But to make classic reproductions of beautiful antique designs requires the use of the original materials and tools. Toledo uses handmade, antique stamps. He crafts his own bezels, rolls and pounds out his silver, and is as true to the original art form as is possible.
One thing that some jewelers do when they are crafting pieces like this is to use turquoise stones that really don’t look like they come from the same era. What Toledo has done is to use natural turquoise that has that look of having been around forever.
If you don’t have the right stone, it looks a lot like someone who put solar panels on an old log cabin! This jewelry definitely has a wood stove!
We are really excited to have received a new group of his jewelry to share with you. The classic look never goes out of style!