Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Wonder of Native American Sterling Cast Work

One of the big reasons I chose Native American Jewelry studies as my livelihood is the vast amount of information out there. A lot is easily accessible but there are hidden pockets that reveal a much deeper understanding of the art form than is usually offered. My best source has been the collectors and traders I interface with; people that have a long association with the art form.

I handle so many pieces I have time to closely examine the techniques used and have formed some opinions around certain aspects. One area that I've found to be particularly interesting is Tufa cast work, which is commonly referred to as Sandcast. This was one of the first techniques used by Native Americans to create jewelry for everyday adornment, ceremonial applications and as gifts for fellow tribe members.

The pieces are often heavy and feature bold designs. Earlier pieces are regularly rough in nature with the design elements being left un-manicured which gives them a slightly primitive look (I like that a lot!). With the advent of mass production and precision measurement tools, a lot of the personality has been removed from the work. Casts for pieces made prior to this had to be “eyeballed” as far as the shapes and thicknesses of the item were concerned. A cast would be made and utilized until it's integrity waned and a new cast was required if the design was to be duplicated. The great thing is, the casts were seldom re-created once they were exhausted, and if they were, the duplicate cast was different than the original rendering each casting as a unique, individual design.

The designs are almost always symmetrical with matching elements that when eyeballed didn't quite end up the same as their sister elements. These older pieces are the ones I strive to acquire—their handcrafted nature is endearing and speaks to the artisan following edicts of early jewelry making in which they let the Gods guide them through all aspects.

One such piece I acquired many years ago is a massive bracelet which was culled from the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas. It's been dated to between 1900 and 1920 and is a stellar example of early Navajo cast work featuring many of the aforementioned attributes.

Much of what I've mentioned here has taken a while for me to absorb. With each new acquisition of a cast sterling piece of considerable age, I learn more about this important technique, it's cultural origins and it's handcrafted charm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coveted and Hard to Come By: The Native American Hair Piece

Native American's are known for their daily adornments, most, if not all, are made by fellow tribe members and given as gifts during certain ceremonies or celebrations. During celebratory activities adornments are ramped up a few levels and they wear their best and most treasured pieces, often stacking them one on the other. Many pieces have cultural significance and are sometimes directly related to the ceremony taking place, like this Holly Bracelet.

Everyday adornments are kept fairly simple with the hair piece being an ever present decoration. These pieces are functional art and are often passed down from generation to generation.

The Navajo hair piece pictured above is from the 1930s or previous, beautifully crafted, simple in design and traditionally constructed from a single piece os sterling.

This Rain Cloud design is also very old, and it's design speaks to Native American culture, their connection to the Earth and the importance of the Gods' willingness to provide them with much needed moisture. Again, this piece is artfully cut from a single sterling sheet.

This elongated Navajo piece is from the 1940s and incorporates an exaggerated twist in the pick elements and beautifully applied traditional stamping, with the featured stamps being done with a chisel. The tines are seperate from the headpiece and are beautifully soldered into place.

This very old Navajo piece is also elongated and has considerable age indications. The odd shaped stone is beautifully set and the hand stamping varies dramatically. The tines are seperate on this one as well, and in keeping with the primitive, early nature they're not as cleanly attached as the previous piece as the proper tools were not available at the time of it's construction

An important technique used in older Native American jewelry construction is “eyeballing” the stamp placement, the initial cut of the sterling with which the piece is to be made and stone positioning. This is one of my favorite attributes of handling Vintage and Old Pawn pieces and can easily be compared to musical improvisation.

Having these pieces in our collection is a real feather in our cap as they seldom leave the family of origin, and when they do, they more than likely remain within the tribe, as their personal nature is highly regarded. Most of these pieces were made specifically for a loved one or relative while considering their personal style or positioning within the tribal hierarchy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And we have a Winner!

One of the first techniques used by Native Americans in jewelry making was the use of Tufa Casting, or as it's more commonly referred to, Sandcast. Very early on, from the mid 1800s, wet, stiff sand was artfully shaped and molten metal, usually sterling silver, was poured into the mold. This renders a unique look and the result is often pretty weighty. The cast sterling, once removed from the mold, had to be filed smooth and delicately shaped by the artisan. The molds deteriorated after each use and the castings change slightly each time. If the artisan needed several cast elements for something like this Concho Belt, a mold would often have to be re-created thus rendering slightly different characteristics as each new mold was made. There were no precision measurement tools available and casting work was all done by “eyeballing” the shape of the mold.

This 1880 to 1900 Concho Belt pre-dates what Native American jewelry aficionados refer to as “Phase One”; a specified time period when the art form first came to fruition. The craftsmanship is outstanding—the unknown artisan took this belt very seriously and it shows. That the leather belt is original is a miracle in itself. The belt was used for a period and acquired by a serious collector who stored it for close to a century and it's condition is beyond reproach.

I've seen thousands of Concho Belts and owned several, but this is by far the best representation of Navajo casting work I've had the pleasure to even see much less be able to acquire.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sky and Earth

by Scott Anderson: Native Treasures Online - East Coast Operative

I've never written a blog before so I'm quite surprised to find myself writing my first one far from home and far from the places traditionally associated with my subject today, that being the mineral phenomenon known as Turquoise.

I am not a geologist, nor an artist, nor a theologian or an economist, and I therefore concede that there are deeper writings on everything I'll discuss here today. I stand at this nexus radiating from the stone as an admirer and a tourist of sorts in the realms of these experts.

My first exposure to this stone was in my grade school years when a kid from up the street showed me a stone he had obtained on a trip to some exotic location. Turkoyse was how he said it, and it was valuable. It immediately impressed my young mind and I accepted it's value on his say-so alone. That impression sat many years before I was again exposed to the stone.

When I moved to Albuquerque at the age of seventeen there were few jobs for which I was qualified and one of the possibilities was working for an "Indian Jewelry" shop. As it turned out, I never did go to work for such a place, but many of my acquaintances took their turn working in these sweatshops grinding heishi for the quick sell to tourists that didn't know any better. To me, the whole subject of turquoise was decidedly utilitarian. The stuff seemed to be everywhere and it's enthusiasts merely a class of prey for the local merchants.

Fast forward through the years--about thirty. These experiences have faded deep into the realm of irrelevance now. There was the occasional reminder of the art form employing turquoise and silver as my life took me far from New Mexico, but somehow the place and the people had made me one of their own. I remember driving to my job at the Ambrosia Lakes mines outside of Grants, New Mexico. I looked off to the side of the road and saw the smooth rolling brown hills and was overcome with something strange and warm. These hills, this land, were now my mother. I was born from them and in them I belonged as on my Mother's arm. Wherever life might take me, I would never forget this place and this time.

From Albuquerque one can see in the distance a beautiful mountain. You have to be on a high place to see it off to the west. It's called by the white man, Mount Taylor. This is a holy place. It was in the foothills of this place that I saw my Mother Earth. There is no arbiter of justice, there is only what is part of us and what is not. This land and I are of a piece. Maybe it's a reach to claim more than that, but the particular stone we call Turquoise is of this land too. In fact it is found in globally diverse places, but here in the New World, it is closely associated with the Southwestern United States.

All this variety has led to a hope that we might classify the stones and indeed we do, but the predominant classification is by mines from which a particular stone was quarried, hence mysterious names such as The #8 Mine or Carrico Lake, Cerrillos or Pilot Mountain. To anyone seeking to know more about this beautiful stone it can all seem quite daunting and indeed to compound the problem there is plenty of misrepresentation around these stones. Its really not a matter of malicious intent either, it is mostly just that there is really no solid science to the whole thing. Any particular quarry or mine will produce a variety of gem-quality pieces depending on where in the vein they were found. And yet, each mine can produce stones unaffectionately referred to as crap. Strangely or not, these stones never seem to receive the appellation of place like that afforded the best wines. Which brings us to yet another point and the comparison with wines is inescapable on this point. A cheap wine is made of grapes sourced from the cheapest supplier and they are likely to be a mixture of grapes from moderately diverse locations. Likewise turquoise of poor quality can be ground into a powder and bound with epoxy resins to produce a uniform composite which will take a polish and can be easily cut to size. This is referred to simply as "block" by those in the trade. This is not gem-quality stone and, unfortunately finds it's way into a lot of cheap jewelry.

So having danced around this subject maybe a bit more than necessary, we're still wondering what it is that gives a stone value. There's beauty, but how can one measure that? There's rarity, but that is a difficult thing to quantify when the stones themselves vary so much within even a single mine. There are physical qualities such as hardness and the ability to take a polish. These are a better bet at least on the quantitative front and indeed they really do matter probably more than anything else, except, where the stone came from. There are particular qualifiers to this though and that's the particular mine from which the stone was quarried. Some mines are active today, some had a brief spurt of glory in recent times and are now lost forever under hundreds of feet of quarry tailings, while yet others were mined in prehistoric as well as historic times. One can do the calculations at home as well as can I; rarity equals value, historicity equals value, beauty equals value, yet in the end, most of what determines value is subjective at best and unmeasurable except through the most tortured of extensions. What is one to do about all this?

Well, the answer is really one for each to answer for oneself. My own attraction to Turquoise is a complex thing, but it always holds a sense of place for me. Having no true homeland myself, it reminds me of the place that claimed me so many years ago. I see the weathered rocks and the weathered faces of the natives who work the stone, the silver, and the leather into reflections of this land. But even this association is by personal experience as much as objective fact. Many wonderful stones of Persian, Tibetan, and even Chinese origin have found their way into finely crafted pieces of Southwestern Native American Jewelry. The turquoise stone is a color in the artist's palette as much anything, yet anyone who has spent any time in the American Southwest can see those skies set against the tones of the desert, and know why this stone is such an integral part of it's people's craft.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

JW Edgar--The Turquoise King of the Southwest

We've had an opportunity to acquire some superior pieces from the J.W. Edgar estate here in Albuquerque. Edgar was referred to as “The Turquoise King of the Southwest” during his 100 years, and on his passing his family has slowly started to offer pieces from his private collection. At one time Edgar owned close to 11 thousand acres of turquoise claims in Nevada, several of them producing much sought after, high grade stones. He sold much of what his mines produced to Indian Trading Posts throughout the Southwest with much of it ending up on the Native American pueblos of New Mexico.

Legendary silversmiths were regularly employed by Edgar to incorporate his best stones into special, one-of-a-kind pieces, many of which Edgar kept for himself, with many more being offered to important collectors, dignitaries and pop culture icons. Often pieces would return to Edgar in trade when someone wanted to either upgrade or have something designed especially for them. He was the “go-to guy” when you wanted the best available. RG Armstrong had this chip inlay watch bracelet custom made by one of Edgar's silversmiths, and later traded it for something else. With Armstrong's extensive stage, film and television presence, starting in the late 1930s and lasting beyond 2000, this is not only a highly desirable work of Native American art, but an important Hollywood collectable.

The acquisition of two, Old Navajo Pawn Bow Guards / Ketohs has been a real feather in our cap as far as adding to our museum worthy offerings. The stones and craftsmanship are completely "over the top" on both of them and we're very excited to add them to the Native Treasures collection. You can get a good look at them in the video, they're located in the Featured Pieces category on the website and include some extensive provenance in their descriptions.

As negotiations continue we're confident that additional pieces from this impressive estate will become available. We'll keep you posted!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's all about the ART

In the '70s the market price of silver went through the roof, got close to $50 an ounce and slowly worked it's way back down to $12. The increase happened quickly but the decline took a while. The same thing is happening now. Silver is nearing $50 after being stable at around $17 for decades, dropping to $12 occasionally. This has seen jewelry prices increase as it's costing more to produce. The price is going to peak here pretty quickly, and with the economy currently being what it is, I foresee it tanking in the very near future.

Everybody is up in arms about how expensive silver has become, and I'm real sorry, but I don't get it. I understand that the contemporary trinket market depends heavily on the availability of silver, but trinkets are just that—quickly thrown together, mass produced identical pieces aimed at a quick sale to the general public. The art aspect is not a consideration, or if it is, it's minimal at best.

The only reason I even have knowledge of silver prices sky-rocketing is that my suppliers are beginning to consider it when offering me goods. They complain about it all the time, make sure they tell me all about it as an excuse to raise their prices.

I ignore it. Always have. I'm not dealing in pieces of metal, I procure art, and the cost of materials to produce it is completely immaterial. The end product, when created by artisans that “care” far transcends the cost of materials.

Bulk can be a consideration when acquiring, as heavier pieces are often desirable. Artisan's worth their salt use heavy gauge materials to insure their creations will be sturdy, and last a few lifetimes. Considerable weight can increase the value of a piece, but it has little to do with the market price of shiny metal.

I just acquired this exquisite Old Pawn Navajo Turquoise bracelet. It's one of, if not the, most beautifully crafted carinated-band-shank bracelet I've ever seen. It weighs 108 grams, or 3.6 Troy ounces. That puts it's silver scrap value at around $145. Anyone that would sell this masterpiece for scrap needs their head examined.

I wonder how much the paint cost when Davinci did the Mona Lisa? Not real sure that's a consideration when establishing it's value.

Friday, April 15, 2011

South of the Border

William Spratling moved to Mexico in 1929 after nine years as a writer and architectural student in New Orleans, where he associated with literary colony types like Faulkner, Farge, Blom and many others. Spratling's interest in the artisans of Mexico led to his promotion of a gallery show for the works of Diego Rivera, the first Mexican art presentation in the US.

Dwight Morrow, a US Ambassador, pointed out that the town of Taxco was a silver mining center, had been for centuries, but there was a lack of art being produced in the area. Spratling's design background was ample and he subsequently hired an experienced goldsmith to join him in Taxco and begin producing his jewelry designs. Once it was apparent that these works were desirable in the states, several artisans were employed to increase production.

Sadly, Spratling opened his company to private investors and eventually lost control of “Spratling y Artesanos” in 1946. But what he had started flourished dramatically and Mexican jewelry design was available throughout America in abundance, due to his efforts.

I often acquire Mexican produced pieces as many of them are beautifully designed and constructed. Link bracelets like this bulky dyed quartz Bracelet, probably from the 1940s, are superb examples of the quality work coming out of Mexico. The linking of large sterling panels was a Spratling innovation and this Lapis Inlay bracelet incorporates Aztec design elements, thick, sturdy construction and was undoubtedly fashioned after a Spratling design. This Taxco artisan hallmarked Wave design bracelet is just superb and really speaks to the talent of the silversmith. Mexican link bracelet design became very bold as time went on as seen in this 4 link bracelet featuring Amethyst stones and chisel chased design elements.

Ornate multi-layered sterling designs were popular with the Taxco area artisans and many are executed so beautifully and with such attention to detail, that they increased demand for Mexican jewelry, like this 1930s Rose Design bracelet. Finding one is this condition is rare and it's a shining example of detailed silversmithing. This cross pendant, hallmarked by a Taxco artisan, incorporates ornate layering and a lapis centerpiece, as well as linking techniques.

Often times Taxco artisans would use a higher grade of silver due to it's availability. This 950 silver link necklace with it's dyed stones is a great example of using silver of a higher grade than sterling and following link design edicts established by Spratling.

Art Deco designs were produced in great quantities when Mexican jewelry was being developed. This 1930s-40s set of Green Glass Dangle earring, probably by renowned artisan Pedro Castillo are a wonderful handcrafted example. This boldly designed Art Deco pin can also be used as a pendant by attaching a chain to the delicate loops and it's Art Deco design is “over the top.”

A style came out of the Taxco area in the 1930s resembling Native American repousse work. The silver would be hammered into wooden molds of Mexican icons, and attached to a flat backing plate. The wood rendered a much “softer” edge than that of Native American repousse work and this Aztec design influenced, large format pin is a superb example of this technique.

We will continue to offer high quality Mexican works. Their history is intriguing, the craftsmanship is often outstanding and the bold nature of the work is a lot of fun to wear.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old Pawn Native American Handcrafted Jewelry

“Old Pawn” is a designation given to pieces that weren't necessarily left at a pawn shop and never claimed, although it's often the case. There are construction techniques and design styles that will often be labeled as Old Pawn, and these are, more often than not, pieces made before the 1950s.

WWII saw a lot of Native Americans in the armed forces, and when they returned home they brought a plethora of tools with them that changed how jewelry was made. Precision instruments that either took the place of doing things by hand or made it considerably easier to craft works in a more refined way as well as faster. Old techniques were abandoned by many of the Native silversmiths yet others stuck with their methods as tradition played a big role in creating their works of art.

Old Pawn is the most sought after genre of the art form and many artisans are returning to traditional techniques as it gives the jewelry a feel of authenticity that's hard to achieve without getting your hands dirty, so to speak. This Kirk Smith Navajo Squash Blossom Necklace was made sometime in the 1990s and is very traditional in it's design and construction. This set of Earrings by contemporary Navajo artisan Alex Sanchez also pays tribute to Old Pawn jewelry—this is something Sanchez kind of dabbles in--much of his work is quite contemporary, but he does fantastic work when adhering to tradition.

We've acquired some impressive Old Pawn works as of late, great examples of the art form from different southwestern tribes. This Navajo Beaded Necklace with it's amazing turquoise stone and sterling work is hand made right down to the clasp. This Navajo Choker is also handcrafted with each sterling bead being slightly different from the others. It's still on it's original hemp string and the clasp is hand made on this one as well. This set of Navajo Dangle earrings is pretty remarkable; handcrafted sterling beads, the wires connecting the elements are encased in sterling tubes and the ear wires are handcrafted.

Our Bolo Tie collection has grown considerably in the last month with some Old Pawn pieces being acquired. This Navajo Repousse and turquoise bolo is based on concho belt designs from the 1930s and 40s. The handcrafted nature of this piece is undeniable and it's bold design is well executed using primitive tools. Zuni stone to stone inlay relies heavily on the lapidary skills of the artisan and this Old Pawn Zuni bolo tie is a stellar example. Not only was the artisan skilled in the lapidary field but was obviously an accomplished silversmith as well—the sterling lanyard tips are handcrafted specially for this piece. Many Navajo artisans didn't adopt lapidary work right away and the rough turquoise stones on this Navajo shallow shadowbox bolo are held in place with specially hand cut sterling bezels—the look is unique and you just don't see it very often. The sterling lanyard tips are handcrafted on this bolo too, and incorporate a wave design—again, very unique.

Stellar older works are appearing on the website with regularity and I couldn't be more pleased. Having the capacity to represent the Native American art form in it's finest and most traditional genre is what I strive for. Were I to list all the Old Pawn works available on the website, this would turn into a novel. This video features several of our Old Pawn pieces.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More FUN Stuff!!!!

While I'm in the field I find all manner of interesting collectables to add to our Other Interesting Finds category. The category is kind of like my own personal eBay; a place to offer a wide variety of items that are of interest to collectors from many genres.

I've acquired some really fun stuff recently, as well as some high-end collectable pieces.

My personal fave is this set of playing cards featuring works of the pin-up illustrator Vargas of Playboy Magazine fame. His full sized works are collected by many and this whimsical deck of cards is an unusual item from the 1950s--a period in which his notoriety was just starting to take off. 54 cards all featuring miniature versions of some of his early works, one joker with a Vargas Girl and another with a brief history of Vargas.

Native American Baskets are something I'm just starting my studies on, but this fantastic Papago Basket, made of yucca splints is so different than what I've seen, design-wise, that it really spoke to me. It's not an old basket, but it's construction is obviously done by an artisan that knows the art form well and the execution is flawless.

I'd never heard on the Damascene technique which is often used in jewelry making. When it was applied to this wonderful Hotel Desk Bell, on the back of a turtle shell, the results were pretty amazing. If I had a butler, I'd keep this for summoning him.

I simply can't resist rustic Southwestern decor, and when I spotted this immense buffalo skull I had no choice but to acquire it. I had no idea they were so big, and it caused a bit of a problem when trying to fit it into the trunk of my car.

I'm threatening to start a Hairpiece category on the site, as I often find amazing pieces; nice vintage items with tons of character, like this sterling, Navajo Raincloud. What a charming piece. Completely handcrafted, thick and sturdy and very traditionally designed.

I stay real focused when I'm in the field and when something "special" catches my eye, I'm such a "fool for cool" I can't help but grab it up. The Other Interesting Finds category was in the works from day one of website development and I expect it to keep growing.

Rugs, Pottery & Art

We're happy to announce that we've branched out a bit. After hitting the books and talking to galleries and collectors, we've acquired some respectable Rugs, Pottery & Art. The category is in it's infancy, but some of the offering were just to cool to sit on, and we expect the category to grow quickly.

Some of the items offered are in keeping with our promise to offer you the Best of the Southwest and several collectable artisans are represented.

This Vintage Chimayo Rug was made at Trujillo's Weaving Shop, in Chimayo, New Mexico. These guys have been around forever and nothing leaves the shop that isn't top notch.

Santa Clara Pottery is widely collected with a few artisans dominating the field. Stella Chavarria, Gwen Tafoya and Celestina Naranjo create bold Blackware pottery using traditional methods that have been employed for centuries. The works of these talented artisans are highly sought after.

Amado Pena is a world renowned painter and lithographer, and this extremely rare print of "Tomado Agua" is from a limited run of 30 from 1979. It incorporates metallic inks and is one of Pena's early works--a lot more simplistic than his recent offerings. We were lucky to acquire this one; someone was recently offering one on eBay for $1800.

I'm particularly impressed with this lithograph of a pencil drawing depicting a Native American Elder from 1973. The artist is unknown, but wow, what an amazing portrait.

I've enjoyed my studies in these new fields as Native American artisans never cease to intrigue me with their dedication to traditional art forms and their insistence on following methods laid down by their predecessors.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who Killed Customer Service?

It was my daughter's birthday. We'd eaten at a sushi bar, had arrived at 1:45, and were served 20 minutes later in a very rushed manner. 15 minutes later, while still in the middle of our meal, our server was insistent that we pay our bill immediately. Then the lights started going off in the restaurant, other customers were hurried out the door and clean-up began; chairs piled on tables, vacuum cleaners fired up, chefs closing up the sushi stations, the music was turned off and we were left to finish our food in the dark accompanied by the roar of the vacuum. A not so subtle hint to “be gone.”

There's a high-end coffee and dessert shop in my neighborhood and I wanted to treat my daughter to a nice follow-up to the lunch we'd had. There are no less than 50 dessert options and a myriad of coffees to select from. No sooner had we entered than a surly counter person asked for our order. We weren't even at the counter yet, hadn't had 10 seconds to peruse the offerings, and here this sneering employee with a considerable itch to be elsewhere was making it very clear that she didn't have time to bother with us. She was in a big hurry to toss our desserts at us and move on to her next victim. Once we ordered, she took her sweet time preparing two pieces of pie and coffee, slapped it on the counter and barked a number at us. There was no eye contact. Tip = ZERO.

This trend of treating customers like they're of little consequence has baffled me for 20 years. It seems it happened overnight. I guess I'm “old school”; I remember one of my first jobs pumping gas way back when it was a service provided by the station. A car pulls up, the attendant appears at the driver's window, and performs the duties the driver requests. Can't remember the last time I witnessed this phenomenon. This service vanished a long time ago, replaced with a single employee behind a security window running the show with no co-pilot.

With the economy in decline, which can and does drive sales figures down, customer service can be a determining factor when potential buyers are making their decision on where to spend their hard-won dollars. The sushi bar I mentioned has the best sushi in town, and I'll go there again. I'll just arrive earlier to avoid the bum's rush. But the dessert place won't be seeing me again. Both of those establishments are unique in that the service you receive is a “face to face” interaction. With businesses moving to the internet to reach a wider audience, the “face time” factor is removed and you're left with text on a screen and email communications with which to employ customer service that shines. You're left with some decisions to make concerning how your buyers are treated.

eBay has been employing “feedback” since it's inception, and I invariably scroll through the comments should a seller have a rating of less than 100%. It's stopped me from patronizing certain sellers, especially when their response to negative feedback is terse. If the seller allows the negative feedback to go unaddressed, or admits their mistake, I'm more liable to consider making a purchase. We're all striving to do our best, but the simple fact is, nobody's perfect; mistakes will be made. Owning those mistakes takes a certain level of integrity.

With products becoming widely available on the internet I seek out the suppliers that have a Service Review or Feedback section on their site. But this can be misleading, as often the website has partial reviews that include only the positive aspects of what the customer experienced, or they simply leave out any weak feedback they have received. Should an internet business include any and all service reviews it gives them more credibility as they are willing to let you know that they can't please everybody, perhaps a mistake was made, a miscommunication of some sort; any form of “glitch” in customer service that is offered up to potential buyers indicates to me that the business is aware of the mishap and has taken precautions to insure it's been addressed.

It's important to me that my clientele are treated with all due respect and should any slip on my part transpire, I'll make every effort to insure it's rectified, and adjust my practices to see that it's not repeated. The Service Reviews category on the Native Treasures website has only recently been implemented, as the site is still in it's infancy. Our handful of current reviews are all positive, some of them glowing, as my customer service is based on what I would expect from a site that I have chosen to patronize. Our policy is that ALL reviews will be posted, verbatim, regardless of their message. I make every effort to insure 100% satisfaction, and should a negative review be offered, it's mine to own and potential buyers should have the opportunity to see that although the “face to face” aspect of doing business has been removed, there is still the possibility that a problem can arise. Internet based businesses that follow this policy earn my respect and often my dollars, as honesty is an attribute that instills confidence in potential buyers, and goes a long way toward them becoming repeat customers.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some Days Are Better Than Others

Over the years I've developed a respectable chain of suppliers, others that when they're in the field looking for specialty items for themselves, obtain items they think would be of interest to me. Sometimes this works out, and others not.

Some recent operative items include this set of carinated band Navajo bracelets. They're not super old, 1950s or so, but they're so wonderfully made, simple and classy, that I've made them my bracelets of choice.

This Vintage Mexican Link Bracelet done in the Taxco style, features superior construction and nicely inlaid pieces of Lapis.

Another Vintage Mexican Link Bracelet that can only be described as “chunky” features sizable jade stones. The piece is really striking. Probably 1940s and in amazing condition.

I've been acquiring a lot of Mexican jewelry as of late, and was pretty pleased when these were offered to me; 1930/40s Vintage Art Deco design handcrafted jade dangle earrings.

This ornate Taxco Cross Pendant has also recently been acquired—beautiful 1940s sterling work with a single lapis centerpiece.

This Old Navajo Pawn Cast Sterling Naja was really a nice addition to the collection with it's primitive hand stamping and the unusual Broken Bow mine turquoise stone.

I've been at this a while and had yet to see a piece of Navajo artisan work utilizing a jade stone, but this old pawn ring features a wonderful piece of jade. Native Americans had no natural source for jade and this stone had to be bought or traded for. Really Rare. It didn't last long...

I do pretty well on my own, manage to cover a lot of bases, but being everywhere at once in a Native American Jewelry hub just ain't gonna happen. I'm pretty lucky to have a group of associates that keep their eyes open for pieces to offer me, and I try and return the favor. Several of us have each other on “speed dial” for when a situation arises that demands immediate attention.

Acquisitions have been pretty slow since the beginning of the year and I was pleased to hear from an operative when he acquired this 1930s Navajo Pawn bolo tie. It's construction and design are unusual as the bolo tie genre was in it's infancy when it was created; the repousse elements, the raised edges created by hammering a mold into the back of the piece, are slightly misaligned, meaning the artisan “eye-balled” their positions. It's based on Navajo Concho Belt designs from that period. I was a little confused when I first viewed it and thought the sterling cast arrow elements had been purchased at some jewelry supply outlet, but further inspection proves them to be handcrafted by the artisan; they're slightly different in size and the stamping varies from arrow to arrow which would not be the case had they been manufactured. This is a great find and I'm hoping it's a sign of things to come in 2011. This piece will make some collector very happy. The images in the video are somewhat larger if you want a closer look.