I would like to purchase a beautiful cuff. The seller claims it was made by a Zuni artist. I am attaching the photos for your review.
Could someone, please, confirm that what the seller is saying is true. Also, is the price of $398 too low for a piece this beautiful plus really original?
Thank you so much in advance!!
This style of bracelet can be commonly found as it was a very popular style. While there are some beautiful examples that are handmade by native artists with natural turquoise, they were more commonly machine manufactured for the tourist trade, marketed to tourists that didn’t know the difference or didn’t care. That’s what we have here. When you look closely at the construction, you can see that it was all cast as a single piece. The “stamping” was cast as part of the design and doesn’t show the variation of hand stamping. In addition these very commonly used a compressed composite stone instead of genuine turquoise, composed of either turquoise powder (waste from cutting stones) or dyed powder from another stone, compressed and glued together. That “turquoise” has a completely uniform and slightly grainy appearance without any matrix at all. Although these are not the greatest pictures of the turquoise in this cuff, it looks to be made with composite stones. If I were you I would pass on this cuff at that price.
One more thing: the back (and the terminal ends) do show some evidence of soldering. Two machine cast halves consisting of three rows each were soldered together. So technically not cast as a single piece as I said above.
I thought a comparison might be helpful. I bought a three row cuff very similar to the one you are looking at when I was new to collecting. Later I acquired a genuine Zuni hand made single row cuff. In the pictures, you can notice several differences:
The turquoise is composite in the mass produced cuff. Notice the uniform color and slightly granular appearance. In the hand made cuff you can see slight variations, small bits of matrix, and smooth even color. They are also rectangular cut. In my experience I have yet to see fake stones in this style of bracelet that are rectangular cut.
If you look at the backs you can get a better clue as to construction. In particular, you can see that the silver “drops” were all individually hand soldered in the genuine cuff. In the mass produced one they are completely continuous, indicating that it was all cast as one. If the genuine one were composed of multiple rows we would see evidence of those rows bring soldered together as well.
The stamping. The genuine cuff is hand stamped, where the mass produced cuff is not actually stamped but has machine cast designs.
It’s small, but if you can see the bezels, you will notice there is slight variation in the cut of the zig zags in the single row cuff, indicating they are handmade bezels. The manufactured cuff has prepurchased machine cut bezels.
Hope this helps! I thought I was getting a good deal on the three row cuff at the time and now consider it a slightly expensive learning experience.
It is always difficult to tell exactly what you have from an image. Maybe it is handmade, but you should be a little nervous about the seller’s pitch. We have Fred Harvey and Zuni artists. The seller claims that the bracelet is 70 to 90 years old, which would make you expect a little different look, maybe not so sharp. It is a good looking bracelet and definitely a popular style.
I second what Orbit Orange wrote above.
To address your specific questions about its price and the honesty of description: the price is certainly not low, and the description of the stones is incorrect, whether by accident of (lack of) knowledge or otherwise. This is composite material, not natural turquoise. For a bracelet of this type, the smart money is for hand fabrication and natural materials.