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A large and very beautifully-crafted Navajo silver
and turquoise ring by Fred Thompson, c.1960’s
Fred Thompson (1921-2002) is one of the 20th century's premier Navajo silversmiths, well known for his exceptional, traditional silver work and his use of often quite large stones of the highest-quality. Thompson began his silversmithing career in 1936 at the tender age of 15, working for the renowned Gallup, New Mexico indian trader, Tobe Turpen. He worked in a completely traditional Navajo manner, making all of his own stamps and tools, and he eventually achieved worldwide recognition for creating bold, classic designs based around the use of the finest natural stones such as this outstanding ring.
Please take a moment to note the extraordinary details of this piece; its beautifully-made and unusually-stamped, heavy, split-chiseled silver shank and very finely-detailed, elaborate, serrated silver bezel into which is mounted a gorgeous, triangular-shaped blue turquoise stone with some overtones of green and white. We are not completely certain of the mine that this beautiful stone came from, but we believe that it very possibly be the famous Lavender Pit Mine in Bisbee, Arizona. The large stone and its bezel are further decorated by a very finely-twisted silver wire surround.
The ring measures a size 7 to 71/4 on a professional graduated ring sizer. The ring’s asymmetrical-shaped face measures 1 5/8” in length at its longest point and is 1 1/8” wide at its widest point and weighs a substantial 23 grams or 7/8 ounce. The ring is in excellent original condition and it is signed on the interior with with Fred Thompson’s characteristic “tilde” insignia* and is also marked “Ster” for Sterling silver.
This is a particularly splendid ring from the talented hands of a distinguished maker whose jewelry pieces are held in increasingly high regard and are correspondingly growing more and more difficult and costly to come by.
*Note: See “The Little Book of Marks on Southwestern Silver” by Bille Hougart, pp.339, TBR International, 2011