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A very beautiful tufa-cast silver and Number 8 Nevada spiderweb turquoise ring by Jack Adakai, c. 1960’s
JACK ADAKAI (Active 1950’s-1981) was a brilliant Navajo silversmith who lived the quiet, rural life of a traditional Navajo way out on the Navajo reservation at the far edge of western New Mexico in the era before the worldwide web, before smartphones and texting, before Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter, before the rise of “superstar” Indian Artists becoming social media and cultural sensations. Were Jack Adakai alive and working
today, he might well be one of these superstars himself based on his exceptional artistic and technical abilities.
Adakai worked at various times for the various prominent Indian trading concerns in and around Gallup in
Western New Mexico; C.G. Wallace, Tobe Turpen, M.L. Woodard and he also worked with the Foutz trading family
of Farmington and Shiprock, NM. Adakai’s silverwork is characterized by its generally larger scale and its clear technical superiority showing excellent mastery of all traditional Navajo silversmithing techniques such as tufa-casting, fabrication, stamp, chisel, repousse and file work. He also was expert in channel inlay work likely as a result of working in close proximity to Zuni Pueblo silversmiths at the various trading posts in and around Gallup.
In addition to his own formidable silversmithing abilities, Adakai was also an excellent teacher and mentor
in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s to his young clan nephew, the now highly-renowned Navajo silversmith,
McKee Platero (b.1957), who is himself today an international internet sensation and social media superstar made so by his legion of adoring fans, particularly in Japan.
This ring is a perfect example of Jack Adakai’s fine silverwork. The ring’s shank is interestingly and very beautifully tufa-cast in silver with a unique and wonderful rough texturing to the silver halfway down the shank which catches the light nicely and serves to better accentuate the polished beauty of the stunning oval-shaped central turquoise stone, a clear blue color with a light black matrix indicative of the great #8 Nevada Black spiderweb, one of the most beautiful and desirable turquoise varieties in the world. The #8 Mine, located near Carlin, Nevada is also one of America’s oldest turquoise mines. Jack Adakai was very particular about using only the finest quality stones and he certainly did so here. The stone is set atop the ring shank in a high walled nicely-scalloped silver bezel which serves to set it off even more. A really lovely presentation here all in all.
The ring measures a size 7- 7 1/4 on a professional graduated ring sizer but it will fit up to a size 7 1/2 finger.
The ring’s face measures approximately 1” in height and 3/4” in width. The ring is in excellent original condition
and it is properly signed “J.A.” in Jack Adakai’s customary capital initials signature on the inside.
Jack Adakai’s jewelry pieces are highly-prized for their exceptional and unique artistry and marvelous quality craftsmanship and this ring is no exception. It is a completely classic and completely elegant piece.
This large district, encompassing ten 20-acre claims, was very active from the 1930’s through the early 1950’s, when production peaked. The Number 8 turquoise mine in Carlin, Nevada was first mined in 1929. In its prime, Number 8 produced some of the largest nuggets of turquoise ever found. The color of Number 8 varies from light blue, blue with shades of green to beautiful dark blue. It is found with a black, golden, red or brown matrix. With the black and red spider webbing being the most valued. Today Number 8 turquoise is one of the most valuable stones that can be collected. High-grade Number 8 turquoise is by far some of the finest turquoise to ever have come out of Nevada.
-Photo and quotation source and © Waddell Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
"Today Number 8 turquoise is one of the most valuable stones that can be collected."
-Quotation source and © Gene Waddell, American turquoise authority and mine owner