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A beautiful contemporary Navajo-Style Sterling silver narrow cuff bracelet set with five Lapis Lazuli cabochon stones, by Brett Bastien, Santa Fe
Do you actually have to be Native American to make great Native American jewelry? In strictly technical by the book Santa Fe Indian Market terms the answer is "yes", but in real-world artistic terms definitely not.
And numerous excellent examples abound. Take the brilliant French-Moroccan born master Southwestern jeweler Evelyn (Eveli) Sabatie whose chance meeting with renowned Hopi jewelry artist Charles Loloma at a Hopi laundromat in 1968 turned into a four-year apprenticeship and a subsequent thirty-years independent career as an outstanding Southwestern jeweler. Or Arizona Native American arts dealer, Jerrold Collings who through direct apprenticeship became one of the finest living Chemehuevi Indian basket weavers despite
not being a Chemehuevi Indian.
Then there’s Illinois-born Santa Fe ceramic artist, Rick Dillingham whose completely inventive style of native-inspired Southwestern pottery impressed even the greatest of our Native American Pueblo potters,
such as Maria Martinez, Margaret Tafoya Dora Tse-Pe and Dextra Nampeyo.
All of which brings us to the contemporary Santa Fe jewelry artist, Brett W. Bastien, (b. approx.1960) who is one of the very few non-Native American graduates of the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe. There he learned from two of the finest Native American artists of the modern era, Hopi Modernist jeweler, Duane Maktima and Hopi ceramic artist and painter, Otellie Pasiyeva Loloma. Brett’s jewelry has a wide stylistic range, he works in classic Navajo styles of fabrication and tufa-casting and also works in Modernist Hopi stone inlay style, but whichever his pieces are always distinctly his own characterized by their exceptional craftsmanship and distinctive appearance and this dramatic narrow cuff bracelet is no exception.
The first thing one notices here is that the silverwork on this bracelet is simply superb. The fabrication of the heavy silver shank is flawless and the silver is smooth and very finely polished and has a marvelous precious smooth feel in the hand and on the wrist. The bracelet is prominently decorated with a row of five Lapis Lazuli oval-shaped cabochon stones. The stones are a rich deep lustrous blue and they are all beautifully matched. The stones are all set in old-style “foldover” type silver bezels and in an interesting and attractive arrangement there are three stones set in the bracelet’s center and one stone set on each of the terminal ends. In a lovely and subtle final touch Bastien decorated the top and bottom edges of the bracelet with a
row of perfectly applied circular stamp work designs.
The bracelet measures 5/16” in continuous width all the way around. The inner circumference end-to-end is
6 1/16"and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/4” for a total inner circumference of 7 5/16”. The bracelet weighs an impressive 121 grams or 4 1/4 ounces and the silver shank is 3/16” in thickness. The bracelet is in excellent original condition and it is properly signed with Brett Bastien’s hallmark “BWB" and is also marked “.925” for Sterling silver.
All in all, this is a strikingly bold, very beautiful and very finely made Southwestern-style bracelet,
whether Native American or not. A lot of quality Southwestern jewelry for not a lot of money.