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A superb "Sonwai" Hopi tufa-cast silver,
14K gold, Mexican fire opal, turquoise and coral cuff bracelet by Verma Nequatewa, 2004
Verma (Sonwai) Nequatewa told us that she made this outstanding tufa-cast silver, gold and fire opal cuff bracelet as a custom order in 2004 and that her original inventory number for the bracelet was A4-56. Verma Nequatewa (b.1949), of course, is the distinguished niece and former longtime apprentice of the world-renowned Hopi jewelry impressario Charles Loloma (1921-1991) and she continues on creating masterworks just as beautifully today at age 75 with her Uncle’s artistic inspiration as she has for the past 50-plus years. In fact, to our experienced eyes and we have been buying and selling her work for 35-plus years now, she somehow almost magically just keeps on getting better and better.
“Charles taught that beauty is all around us on Hopi; in the environment, in the culture, in ceremony. By combining elements from what is a part of my everyday life, the finest of ideas,
with the finest of materials, I can interpret a part of Hopi for people to see and wear.”
Verma Nequatewa at the Heard Museum’s Sonwai retrospective exhibition opening, October, 2018.
This good-sized bracelet measures 11/2" in width at its widest center point and it tapers down to 3/4" in width at the terminal ends. The bracelet’s inner circumference end-to-end is 6 1/8” and the gap between the terminals is 1 1/8” for
a total interior circumference of 7 1/4". The bracelet’s silver shank is a touch over 1/16” in thickness and the bracelet weighs a substantial, yet quite comfortable on the wrist 116 grams or 4 1/8 ounces. The bracelet is in remarkable, nearly-new original condition, particularly so for its twenty years of age and almost looks as if it was never worn or
worn very seldom and then very carefully. The bracelet is properly signed “Sonwai” in a hand-engraved electric pen signature on the interior.
Also, very interestingly, Verma Nequatewa clearly thought highly enough of this bracelet to include it in her excellent 2012 retrospective art book on her life’s work to date which is entitled “Visions of Sonwai” and pictured below.
This bracelet is a superbly-done and very powerful modern-era Native American artwork, a stunningly wearable piece of world-class precious jewelry and a marvelous encapsulation and statement of culture and history all at the same time. That’s saying quite a lot.
Price available upon request
Verma Nequatewa's beautiful hardcover book on her jewelry, "Visions of Sonwai", 2012. The bracelet is pictured at lower left on page 102 as can be seen in the photo above. Copies of this book are available at sonwai.com
This bracelet is very interestingly and most beautifully set with a large, rare, hand-carved, oval-shaped, gem-grade Mexican fire opal stone set in a finely-serrated and highly-polished 14K gold bezel and it also has some very unique and beautiful interior designs of coral and turquoise bead inlays and a deeply cast-in silver spiral design, which is an ancient Hopi migration symbol visible on numerous ancient rock art panels found in and around the Hopi mesas in Northern Arizona.
The use of such interior or “hidden gem” designs is a Charles Loloma jewelry innovation intended to be a more intimate or personal design known only to the piece’s wearer. The tufa casting of this bracelet is particularly beautiful, especially the visual contrast between the rougher, more grayish colored shank of the bracelet and the brighter highly polished edges. Too, the slightly beveled edges on the top and bottom of the bracelet shank are subtle, tactile and extremely pleasing to the eye and touch. This piece FEELS every bit as good as it looks, one of the distinct hallmarks of a great jewelry piece.