Investment advice on old pawn ring

I saw this ring in a shop in Santa Fe, and I can’t stop thinking about it. But I can’t really afford it for the price they’re asking. It’s about an inch long, and sooo freaking cute. It’s listed for $600, which is about 1/2 the cost of my wedding ring. Could I ask a Zuni artist to design something similar, and support a current artist directly? With the economy the way it is, it seems like that might be a more impactful way to spend my limited resources. But is that ethical or appropriate?

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It is a unique ring. I would be interested to know if the silversmith who made this piece also carved that fetish. I imagine it is two different artists, meaning you might have a hard time getting this made. Personally, I don’t know if I have ever seen a squirrel fetish before.

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Good point. It probably is two different makers. I’ve seen one or two squirrel table fetishes before, but never a squirrel motif on jewelry.

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I think there’s no ethical issue involved in commissioning something. This was a commercial idea and object to start with. Finding an artist who does both fetish carving and silver mounting/ring making is possibly a challenge, but not impossible (yes, many fetish rings were collaboration pieces between a Zuni carver and a Navajo silversmith, but not always).

Investment wise concerning this particular ring, let me note that this fetish is cracked, which is not great. Or at least that’s how I’m interpreting the vertical line around the eye. And the animal might be what’s called a bushytail, a type of wolf/fox/whatever in Zuni fetishes with a bushy tail that isn’t curved toward the body or up over the spine.

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Hi Lilyelgato, Could you send me some measurements of the squirrel. The dimensions of the ring. The orientation ( runs along the finger or across) ring size etc. I feel a challenge coming on!

Also I wonder if that is a badger? I am certainly not knowledgeable in NA art but looking at some fetishes I saw the squirrels had their tails up but the badgers I saw had big tails that hung low…Just a thought, Kyle
squirrel
badger

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That’s a really good point about the tail. The size is 6.5 and the length is about an inch and a half. It’s longest length is parallel with the length of a finger and it’s about as wide as a finger. So excited you’re inspired!

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I think it is overpriced. I would return to the shop, point out the crack and offer much less. I don’t know what you should offer, but I would not pay more than 150. If it sits in his shop for a few months, he will probably part with it for much less .

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Okay cutting the squirrel wasn’t too hard but when drilling the eye the stone broke. I glued it and continued because this was just for fun anyway. After the repair I tugged the seam to see if it set good, the stone broke in another place. I repaired that too. While setting the stone it broke a third time. I think I need to use a better / harder turquoise stone for this. It was a fun experiment anyway.

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That is sooooo adorable! I still love him. With the broken stone will it still stay in its setting?

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No, I never got to the point of closing the bezel. I think the turquoise was too crumbly to work well. I traced the outline of the squirrel before I broke it so I could make another. I might try again later.

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Do you still have the pieces?

Greatrocks, you’re so kind to take on this experiment and share with us here. The work is very good, and “overhearing” your learning process is fascinating. I think you’ve demonstrated what the maker of the ring in the first post encountered, too–but the Santa Fe dealer felt confident charging $$$ for that experiment! :crazy_face:

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No doubt! Its been fun to see the results. And if its salvageable, I’ll buy it.

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Yep I kept the stone and repaired the cracks. Its solid but shows the crack. I’m thinking about how to disguise it like cut it and splice silver in the stone or carve an arrow over it or something. Here is what it looks like repaired. it glued well but when I sanded it down the crack showed up in the repair. I made another squirrel for a client out of Royston. It’s much stronger and will mount better.

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Looks like it hasn’t sold yet–featured in their current animal online exhibition:

Since the Royston turned out so well and you have the outline from the ring why don’t you replace the broken squirrel with another one made from better turquoise like Royston ? Bet it would be great!