The work of several master jewelers is featured on this page.
The daughter of famed silversmith Thomas Curtis Sr, Jennifer Curtis has learned well and seen her work garner top awards over the past 20 years. Jennifer applied her exceptional silversmith skills to his bracelet set with a turquoise fox, carved of turquoise from the Fox Mine, by coincidence, by Leo Poblano (1905-1959). She set it in a 14kt gold bezel. 1.25 inches across at the widest point.SOLD Absolutely one of a kind. (SANTA FE)
The very contemporary repoussé bracelet at top left was made for a medium wrist. Just over 1.25 inches across. $875. The two twist guard bracelets with safety chains are $300 each. The traditional-inspired bracelet set with waterweb Kingman turquoise in 14 kt gold bezel and raindrops. 5/8 inch wide. Made for a medium wrist. SOLD (SANTA FE)
An unusual find: two Loloma sandcast pieces from the same tufa mold. If you look carefully you will see that the one on the left was the second cast as a couple tiny pieces of tufa were lost in the first casting and filled in with silver on the second. Each measures 4 inches in length. Both have vertical pin backs but only the one on the right has a pendant hook. $6,500 each The one at right is sold.(TUCSON)
A gorgeous pair of 18 kt gold earrings by Cheyenne-Arapahoe jeweler, Victoria Adams. Her other name is “He On E Va,” which means “Woman Who Lights the Pipe.” Set with top quality sugilite and accented by a diamond in the center of each. 1/5/8 inches long. $3800 (TUCSON)
GAIL BIRD and YAZZIE JOHNSON
Award-winning artists for many decades, they are famed for their necklaces and earrings, which are generally accented with gold. The necklaces here include garnet and coral ($4200) black Tahitian pearls($11,000) and cultured pearls ($8000) with reversible inserts of pearl, chalcedony, carnelian, boulder opal and chrysoprase set in 18kt.
Left to right, top to bottom> pink and blue chalcedony set in 18kt gold. $2000. (SANTA FE) Dinosaur bone and smithsonite in 18kt gold. $1800. Poppy jasper and garnet set in sterling. $450. Chrysoprase and druzy set in 14 kt gold. SOLD. Call our Tucson shop for further details. (The cultured pearl necklace, however, is in Santa Fe)
A great buckle set with a nice range of natural Bisbee turquoise by Arland Ben. Ben, like Tracey below, has had a career as an actor as well. This buckle was made for a 1.5 inch belt and measures 2 by 3 inches. SOLD (SANTA FE)
(click for larger image)
Navajo jeweler Arland Ben was born in Bluff, Utah and is from the Edgewater Clan. The son of a medicine man, he first learned silversmithing from his brother-in-law, Vincent Platero. Arland studied art at Brigham Young University and took premed courses at University of Utah (where he was active in wrestling) before he became a jeweler. He has also appeared in such movies as “Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo,” and “Buffalo Girls.” The bracelet at top is set with great Royston turquoise. 1.5 inches wide. Made for a man's wrist. $1875. The bracelet in the middle at bottom is set with natural turquoise said to be from Egypt. A ladies' size but made of heavy gauge silver. it's an inch wide. $1400. (BOTH IN TUCSON)
The Patania Family - the only family of metal smiths to have their work included in the Smithsonian Museum (in the Renwick Gallery).
listen to their story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xgcWwiixpY
Frank Patania Sr came to this country with his widowed mother in 1908, fleeing the devastation of an earthquake in Messina, Sicily, where he had been apprenticed at age 6 to a goldsmith. While in New York he contracted TB and was sent to Santa Fe in 1924 to recover. By 1927 he was well enough to open his own silversmith shop in Santa Fe (and in Tucson in 1937) with his brother Carmelo “Pat” where he forged a new design aesthetic that reverberates to this day - a unique blend of Old World metalworking and the influence of the Southwest. Over the years many American Indian jewelers have apprenticed with the Patania family.
Frank Jr (b 1932) began working full-time as a silversmith in his father’s shop in 1956. Over time he made his mark creating very modern pieces, including liturgical work – some of it monumental in size. His son Sam, the third generation, is forging into yet new territory, inspired by the work of the previous two generations but reflecting his own artistic vision. Joining them is the newest Patania apprentice: 4th generation Marco.
By Frank Patania Sr, with his hallmark and that of the Thunderbird Shop. Set with Morenci turquoise. Made sometime after WWII but before 1954 when his personal hallmark changed. SOLD. (SANTA FE)
Both bracelets by Frank Patania Jr. Each is 1.5 inches wide and made for a medium-small wrist (just over 5.5 with a 1 inch opening). $1100. The earrings at right, circa 1950s are from Frank Patania Sr's shop. The nugget turquoise is from the Godber's Mine and measure just a tad over 1 inch long. $300. (SANTA FE)
A phenomenal box by Frank Patania Sr set with nugget turquoise from the Godbers' Mine. 7 1/8 by 3 5/8 by 1 1/4 inches.SOLD.
Navajo jewelry Leo Yazzie has been working in silver and gold, developing his signature style for decades. Leo was born in 1940 at Black Mesa, Arizona. He was working as a social worker in St Johns Arizona when a supervisor suggested that he go back to school and get an MSW (Masters in Social Work) at Northern Arizona University. While there he had to take an art glass and so he took a jewelry-making class from Joe Coronet along with Duane Maktima, Bob Lomadapki and Victor Beck. “My teacher said there was a contest and I should make a special piece to enter. I did and I won! I discovered that I was an artist.”
At age 76 he is still creating jewelry, but at a slower pace, with the quality of his work undiminished. Just over an inch across at the widest pont.5.25 inches with a 1.25 inch opening. Set with a piece of Blue Gem from a stash of stones from the mine that he purchased many years ago. $1600. (SANTA FE)
Work by the legendary Hopi artist Charles Loloma (1921-1991), who opened the door to amazing innovation in American Indian jewelry beginning in the early 1960s. A ceramicist by training (he and his wife, Otellie, earned a degree in ceramics from Alfred University's School for American Craftsmen in 1949) He and my father met in the mid 1950s and became lifetime friends and I spent the summer with Charles at his tiny studio outside the village of Hotvela when I was 15, but it is far more than personal friendship and regard that makes me say that Charles was one of the seminal jewelers of the second half of the 20th century.
Please note that there are counterfeits of Loloma's work out there. We provide written documentation on each piece, including the prior owner's signature.
Both from the collection of a musician and record shop owner in Tucson who acquired them from Charles in the very early 1960s. The cast bracelet at left shows the hammer marks on reverse that were part of the process he used to create some dimensionality to the bracelet, rather than having it remain perfectly flat. 1 5/8 inches across at the widest point. Fits a small wrist. SOLD The men's bracelet at right is a design that I've never seen repeated. 1 7/8 inch wide. SOLD.
From the same collection as the two bracelets above, it is unsigned but full documentation authenticating it is available. As with the sandcast bracelet at upper left, it was hammered from behind to provide dimensionality. 3.25 by 1 1/8 inches and made for a 3/4 to 7/8 inch belt. $8500.
The tufa cast bracelet at left was acquired in the 1980s at the Margaret Kilgore shop in Scottsdale. Just over 1.75 inches across, it fits a medium to large wrist. $10,500. The one at right is set with Persian turquoise in a 14kt gold bezel. 1 /78 inch across. It fits a medium-small wrist and was acquired by the late owner in the 1970s. $12,500.
The 14kt gold ring at left by Loloma is set with fossilized walrus ivory, coral and top grade sugilite. A size 6 1/2, the inlay goes completely around - 1/2 inch at the widest point, tapering to 1/8 at the back. (SANTA FE)
The ring at right is set with turquoise from a claim called Blue Lace and is silver with a 14kt gold bezel. This ring has spectacular provenance: the original bill of sale, signed by Loloma can be seen below. A size 7 (it can be sized) it is 1.25 inches long. $8500 (SANTA FE)
SEE ORIGINAL BILL OF SALE, SIGNED BY LOLOMA, BELOW
By the extremely talented Duane Maktima (Laguna-Hopi). The pendant is inlaid with turquoise, two shades of rosarita, boulder opal and chalcedony with gold dividers. 1.25 inches square. $1300. (TUCSON) The bracelet is a medium to small ladies size and is just under 1 inch wide. Set with rosarita and turquoise with gold dividers. $2950. (SANTA FE)
A spectacular piece of natural turquoise from the Candelaria Mine in Nevada, set in 14kt gold by Robert Sorrell. The sandcast bracelet has been smoothed on the outer edges but left with the original texture on the inside, for contrast. Fits a medium wrist: 5.5 inches with a 1+ inch opening. 1 1/8 inch across at the widest point. The stone is just over 1.5 inches by 5/8 inches. (SANTA FE)
CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE THE BRACELET FROM ADDITIONAL ANGLES