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A very rare Navajo ingot-silver cuff bracelet
set with four large “Hubbell Glass”
turquoise-colored stones, c. 1920’s-30’s
This is a very unusual and historic piece indeed. All Native jewelry made with “Hubbell glass” beads is rare but we have never before seen a Navajo bracelet set with so many large pieces of it. Even better, this is a fairly early bracelet hand made of ingot-silver. The cuff was chisel-split for greater width and the four triangular blue glass Hubbell beads were then set onto the top in an attractive horizontally-opposed offset arrangement in old-style “foldover” silver bezels.
“Hubbell glass” beads were imported from Europe in the early 20th Century by the famed Indian trader, Juan Lorenzo (J.L.) Hubbell and sold to Native silversmiths in his various trading posts (Ganado, Oraibi, Moenkopi, Winslow, AZ.) as a cheaper, more consistent alternative to turquoise which was sometimes quite difficult to obtain at the time. The blue glass beads were available in both clear blue and “Spiderweb” blue varieties and red glass beads were also available. Necklaces consisting entirely of blue and/or red glass Hubbell beads, likely assembled under the trader’s direction, were also sold in the posts. “Hubbell beads” mark a distinct point in the early 20th Century history of the Southwest, for about a generation, from about 1915 until 1945.
The bracelet measures 3/4” in width at its widest point. The inner circumference end-to-end is 6 1/8” and the gap between terminals is 1” for a total interior circumference of 7 1/8”. The bracelet weighs a substantial yet very comfortable 38 grams or 1 1/3 ounces and it is in excellent original condition. This is a terrific and unique piece of Southwestern history you can wear every day.