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An exceptionally elegant Navajo Arts and Crafts

Guild silver bangle bracelet with stylized diamond designs drawn from Navajo textiles, c. 1940’s

This is precisely the kind of inspired and incredibly beautiful, yet understated and quiet Modernist-style piece the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild (NACG) was renowned for. We say “quiet” here because one of the Guild’s most noteworthy characteristics was restraint and understatement in decoration, but not in the slightest at the expense of quality or expressiveness and this piece nails that exquisite balance perfectly. The row of lightly chiseled diamond-shaped designs around this all-silver bracelet is drawn directly from Classic Navajo textile designs of the 19th Century as can be seen below.

The Navajo Guild’s silversmiths were an outstanding all-star team of the finest Navajo and occasionally Pueblo silversmiths anywhere who could hit the ball out of the park whenever they wanted by virtue of their elegant streamlined design sensibility and their equally remarkable technical proficiency and execution. This team had a deep and talented bench, from luminaries like Guild Co-Founders, Ambrose Roanhorse and Chester Yellowhair to Kenneth Begay, the three Kee brothers, Allan, George and Ivan to part-time contributors such as Charlie Bitsui, Austin Wilson, Hosteen Goodluck and Jack Adakai. The Navajo Guild was a high quality professional operation and it deserved and enjoyed considerable prestige. One of its earliest Directors was the great Navajo and Pueblo jewelry authority and distinguished anthropologist and author, John Adair, and the Guild's jewelry was considered to be of such high quality that it was purchased and sold by such high-end American retailers as Tiffany and Company of New York and Marshall Field and Company of Chicago.

If we were betting people, our money would be on either the great Ambrose Roanhorse or even more likely, the superbly talented Kenneth Begay as being the maker of this outstanding bracelet, so refined and streamlined is the artistic sensibility and so awesome and precious is the craftsmanship, but we will never really know as Navajo Guild regulations strictly forbid any personal artist signatures on Guild pieces, only the NACG’s famous Horned Moon hallmark could be used and occasionally also the word “NAVAJO” in capital letters. To learn more about the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, please click here.

The continuous row of diamond-shaped designs drawn from designs on Navajo weavings has also been used in various ways

with various techniques in Navajo silver jewelry for the past 150 years since the very beginnings of Navajo silver jewelry.

Pictured above at far left; a Navajo plain silver bangle very lightly decorated with concentric diamond-shaped chisel work designs, c. 1870’s. At near left; a historic Navajo coin silver and turquoise cuff bracelet made by an unknown Navajo silversmith,

c. 1915-20 featuring a stamped and chisel worked version of a continuous row of diamond designs.

At near right, The Navajo Arts and Guild recognized and honored the earliest Navajo silversmithing tradition some 70 years later with this updated and streamlined interpretation. At far right, a contemporary 2023 Navajo silver cuff bracelet by McKee Platero featuring his unique personal interpretation of this continuous row of diamond designs done in repoussee, stamp and chisel work.

Far left photo source and © “The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths” by John Adair, University of Oklahoma Press, 1944, pp. 78. All other photos © Fine Arts of the Southwest, Inc.

Repeating diamond shaped designs on one of the finest and most famous Classic Navajo weavings in existence, the famed Chief White Antelope Serape pictured at left taken from the body of Cheyenne Chief White Antelope at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. Pictured at right, Navajo Classic Child's Blanket c. 1865-75.

Left and right photo source and © "Navajo Weaving, Three Centuries of Change" by Kate Peck Kent, School of the American Research Press, Santa Fe, 1985, pp. 39 and 55.

The design and fabrication of this piece are extraordinary and in keeping with the Guild’s general aesthetic design guidelines; large expanses of silver, very minimal applied stamp work or chisel decoration and very limited or no use of set stones.

There are only two design elements present here; the absolutely gorgeous and precious high-domed silver shank of the bracelet and the lovely and perfectly accomplished lightly chiseled in continuous horizontally oriented row of diamond shaped designs. It just couldn’t be simpler, just couldn’t be more beautiful and ironically, it just couldn't be more excruciatingly difficult to make it all look so completely effortless and precious. There is simply no room for the

slightest error in such a tightly focused design presentation.

The bracelet’s finely formed silver center shank measures 1/2" in width at its widest center point and tapers down to 1/4"

in width at the terminal ends. The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 5/8" and the gap between the terminals is 1" for a total interior circumference of 6 5/8". The bracelet weighs a satisfying and somewhat heavy for its slim width 64 grams or 2 1/4 ounces and it is extremely comfortable on the wrist. The domed-up or slightly carinated profile of the bracelet almost

makes it appear to be a hollowform fabrication, but it is completely solid silver.

The bracelet is in thoroughly excellent completely original vintage condition and particularly so for its eighty-or-so years

of age. It has been well worn and there are small dings and scratches over the bracelet's surface, but overall it's in remarkably good shape with a beautiful, almost glowing patina. The bracelet is properly, simply and beautifully signed on

the interior with The Navajo Guild’s famous "Horned Moon" hallmark.

This bracelet is a thing of great beauty, great quality and great meaning; it's a wonderful wearable piece of precious

silver jewelry first and foremost, but it is also a piece of proud culture and art born of a specific time in a specific place

with a specific creative artistic tradition and direction. It’s a lot of weight for a decorative object to carry, and this bracelet

does it beautifully and effortlessly. It would be a true joy to own, wear and to deeply admire for many years to come.

Price $2,850


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