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A very fine old Navajo or Pueblo silver and Cerrillos, NM turquoise row bracelet, possibly

by Della Casa Appa, c. 1920’s-30’s

This is the kind of piece every Native American art dealer wants to have on their wrist as their everyday “go-to” and mostly they will never part with them. So we were quite amazed and most pleasantly surprised to be able to recently acquire this piece from one of our longtime trusted colleagues.

This bracelet is “The Kind” and then some, the then some being the presence of a gorgeous row of what we believe to be nine nicely matched clear blue turquoise cabochon stones with a fine light brown matrix from the storied Cerrillos turquoise mine some 20 miles south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Formerly known as the “Tiffany Mine”, from its previous owners, the renowned New York City fine jewelry house of L.C. Tiffany and Company the historic cerrillos mine has yielded its beautiful blue stones for well over 1,000 years.

Literally thousands of Cerrillos turquoise stones have been found over the years in archeological excavations at New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon complex about 100 miles as the crow flies from the Cerrillos mine. Prehistoric Cerrillos turquoise has also been found hundreds of miles south of here in the crown jewels of the famed Aztec emperor Montezuma. It was an important trade items to say the least and the nearby prehistoric Anasazi villages of San Marcos, Tonque and San Cristobal guarded their supply of it jealously and traded it far and wide.

At left, aerial view of Pueblo Bonito ruin at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.

At right, a selection of prehistoric Cerrillos turquoise jewelry items excavated at Pueblo Bonito.

Right photo source and © The American Museum of Natural History

The nine matched stones are beautifully set in a row of old style “Foldover” type silver bezels attractively accentuated and interspersed with eight parallel rows of two applied silver “raindrops” on top and bottom,

16 in all. This artistic method and technique is strongly reminiscent of bracelets made by the great Zuni Pueblo lady silversmith Della Casa Appa (1889-1963) who worked for prominent Indian trader, C.G. Wallace’s famous trading post at Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico and this bracelet could indeed have been made by her, but that is impossible to know for certain.

The bracelet measures 5/8" in width at its widest center point tapering down to 1/4" in width at the terminal ends. The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 3/4" and the gap between the terminals is 7/8” for total interior circumference of 6 5/8".  The bracelet weighs a very comfortable and easily wearable 48 grams or 1 3/4 ounces. The bracelet is in excellent original condition overall with a fine soft patina from age and use. Extending outwards from either side of the central row of turquoise stones to the terminal ends are silver panels handsomely decorated with finely-executed stampworked designs.

This bracelet is in every way an exceptional piece; it is exceptionally beautiful, exceptionally well made, exceptionally wearable, and exceptionally historic. Depending on which sports analogy you prefer, this one is either “Game, set, match”, “Touchdown” or a “Grand-Slam home run”.

Price $2,350


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