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A beautiful historic Navajo silver
twisted wire and “Arizona Rainbow” petrified
wood bracelet, c.1930’s-40’s
What an incredibly historic piece this is! It spans almost the entire arc of Southwestern history
from the old Route 66 trading posts of the 1930’s and 40’s all the way back to the primordial Jurassic Period
days some 200 million years ago when Tyrannosaurs Rex roamed the area of what is now Eastern Arizona.
Let’s start with the trading post end of things. This bracelet was made in this era by an anonymous, but obviously
very highly-skilled Navajo silversmith sometime in the 1930’s or early 1940’s during the heyday of motorized Southwest tourism. And afterwards, someone driving down the old “Mother Road” through the Southwest, as old Route 66 used to be called, stopped at a dusty windswept Indian trading post somewhere along the highway and bought this bracelet and brought their pretty prize back to their home in the Midwest where we found it 80-90 years later.
This bracelet might have been made in the so-called “Tourist” era but make no mistake, there is nothing shoddy
about it at all. The craftsmanship is absolutely superb and first rate all the way, most likely made by an older, highly-experienced Navajo silversmith well versed in making traditional jewelry. The bracelet’s shank is beautifully
and very skillfully crafted of three large stands of fairly heavy hand-twisted silver wire, a very difficult and painstaking technique to do well. An oval-shaped silver bezel platform is mounted in the center of the shank atop the silver wires and in the old-style "foldover" silver bezel is set this truly historic and ancient gem, a lovely oval-shaped piece of multicolored “Arizona Rainbow” petrified wood, one of the world’s most beautiful and oldest stones.
And let’s talk for a moment about just how particularly stunning this lovely stone is, shot all the way through
with deeply-saturated swirling rich colors of reds, oranges, purples, yellows, browns and greys. The lovely stone is further accentuated all the way around with a decorative, very finely-stamped silver bezel surround. The bracelet’s terminal ends are also very nicely and attractively capped with small rectangular silver plates.
The bracelet measures 1 1/2" in width at its widest center and tapers down to 1/2" in width at the terminal ends.
The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 3/4" and the gap between the terminals is 1 3/16" for a total interior circumference of 6 15/16", just shy of 7". The petrified wood cabochon stone itself measures 1 3/8" in length and
3/4" in width. The bracelet weighs a very comfortable and easy to wear 58 grams or 2 ounces and it is in completely excellent original condition, and particularly so for its 80-90 years of age. The silver has developed a beautiful
warm, soft patina from age and use.
Jewelry doesn’t get much more interesting, much more beautiful, much more historic or much more
closely connected to a special landscape and place than this bracelet.
“Howdy Stranger. Nice bracelet!”
Photo source and © Shutterstock
The bracelet pictured with a polished specimen rough stone of “Arizona Rainbow” petrified wood.
We remember well driving along old Route 66 ourselves as little kids traveling with our grandparents and it was
just a glorious trip, we fondly remember our Grandma buying Indian jewelry in creaky, dusty old trading posts in out
of the way remote places with exotic names such as Kayenta, Oljato, Red Lake, Ganado, Teec Nos Pos, Shiprock, and Gallup. We remember the ever-present bright sun and clear blue sky, the blowing wind, the swirling desert sands, the endless horizons, the mysterious, silent Navajo on horseback or in mule-drawn wagons.
And if you were lucky, this fine bracelet is just the kind of souvenir goodie you might find in one of these exotic places, a beautifully-made triple twisted silver wire bracelet set with a gorgeous large “Arizona Rainbow” petrified wood stone from Arizona's own Petrified Forest, 200 million or so years old. How’s that for romance? Need some more? Okay, here it comes. This place was the real “Jurassic Park" complete with Tyrannosaurus Rex and all the gang; Tricerotops, Brontosaurus, Velociraptors and Pterodactyls, all right there in what is today Eastern Arizona, roaming around among a primordial forest of huge trees made of the exact same wood in the exact same place as the stone in this bracelet. Now that’s some mighty interesting history in the palm of your hand!
View of "Arizona Rainbow" petrified wood logs in the Petrified Forest near Holbrook, Arizona.
Photo source and © Arizona Highways Magazine