One of the most exciting things in this business occurs when people inherit stunning art, jewelry, pottery, and even Navajo rugs that have never been worn or displayed.
Often they are beautiful pieces of work, and I always wonder why someone would buy something and not enjoy it. I realize I am making a judgment about that, as everyone does things for their own reasons, and maybe the enjoyment of buying something to keep for the future or a future generation provides satisfaction.
This year, I received a call from a woman in the Northwest who inherited some beautiful Navajo jewelry she had no interest in keeping. I guess that is the downside of collecting for someone else! I have found that often children don't like the same things their parents do!
This woman sent us three turquoise necklaces, all with beautiful silver work, all signed by the same silversmith, two set with beautiful natural turquoise, and one with natural stones compressed under heat and pressure with a transparent polymer. That might sound strange, but it is something that several well-known silversmiths, such as Tommy Jackson, have experimented with successfully.
This simplest design is the set with Kingman Turquoise. All three sets have handmade bezels, but this one is simple silver with accenting drops of silver balls. The other two have elaborate stamp work on the bezels, something not often seen in this type of necklace.
The signature is RD. I can not find any record of a Navajo silversmith who used that stamp in traditional silver work. Unfortunately, even as late as the '70s and '80s, some talented silversmiths worked in shops in Gallup, Albuquerque, or Phoenix who quit making jewelry for one reason or another. When people like Barton Wright or Billie Hougart were compiling hallmarks for their books, these artists slipped through the cracks.
The work on all of these pieces is beautiful. The stones are well-matched, and the designs are entirely different.
One of the pleasures of working in the Native arts business is taking lovely pieces like these and passing them on to an entirely new generation of collectors. This beautiful jewelry is meant to be worn and enjoyed.
And if anyone knows who RD is, I would appreciate hearing from you. This talented artist should not be forgotten.