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A beautiful Modernist-style White Hogan Shop Sterling silver and ironwood pendant by Nicholas Gambino, c.1970’s

This lovely and distinctive piece is what might have happened if a 19th Century Navajo silversmith had somehow seen a Sputnik rocket launch over Canyon de Chelly. The Iron Age has met the Space Age head on here resulting in this unique pendant.

Modernist Native American jewelry made with traditional Navajo techniques and methods was the unique and innovative aesthetic approach of Scottsdale, Arizona’s famed White Hogan Shop under the inspired leadership of Co-Founder Kenneth Begay (1913-1977) the legendary “Father of Modern Navajo silver” and this distinctive streamlined piece fits this exalted aesthetic just perfectly.

Nicholas (Nick) Gambino is certainly not your typical name in Native American silversmiths but Nick Gambino (b.1940’s) was one of the 20th Century’s finest and most creative Native American silversmiths. He was not Navajo or Pueblo in ancestry, he was actually a Morongo Mission Indian from Southern California, but beginning in 1971 he went to work at Scottsdale, Arizona’s famed White Hogan Shop where he was mentored and rigorously trained by Kenneth Begay (1910-1977) and Begay’s talented first cousins Allan Kee and George Kee so Gambino made his jewelry with the sleek and innovative Modernist design aesthetic and meticulous traditional methods of craftsmanship used at White Hogan.

The Desert Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)

Photo source and © Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Gambino distinguished himself at White Hogan by virtue of his obvious talent and artistic creativity as can be abundantly seen in this pendant, a swooping elongated oval shape with dramatically tapered slanted sides enclosing a beautifully set piece of deep brown Desert Ironwood. Desert Ironwood (Olneya Tesota)) is a particularly dense and beautifully fine-grained wood which grows wild and abundantly in southern Arizona and which The White Hogan Shop silversmiths used quite regularly and most attractively in their various jewelry and tableware pieces.

The pendant measures 2 1/4" in length and is 1 1/8" in width at its widest point and 1/4" in depth. It weighs an extremely comfortable and easy to wear 10 grams or 3/8 ounce and it is in completely excellent outstanding original condition with

very little indication of wear at all. It is properly signed “NG” in Nicholas Gambino’s co-joined capital letter initials signature and it is also stamped with The White Hogan Shop’s famous domed Navajo hogan hallmark and "Sterling". The pendant is presently strung on an attractive black silk jewelry cord which is included, but alternatively it would look just as beautiful hung on a dark leather thong or a fine silver chain, if ever desired.

This gorgeous streamlined pendant is a perfectly-crafted classic of its time and place and it has stood the test of time beautifully for six decades now and will continue to do so long into the future. It’s a present and future classic piece

of beautiful Southwestern jewelry.