Thunderbird or Phoenix Turquoise vintage cuff

This is a Thunderbird or Phoenix Native American vintage cuff with makers mark KH. Can anyone identify the maker? The mark was so small a jeweler had to use magnifying glass to find it and said it was very old. This belongs to a friend of mine who is needing to sell due to heart problems and we don’t know what the value it. She thinks it was purchased for $700 a few years ago from an Indian who makes jewelry near Tulsa but it was a gift and she can’t recall. I will pay her for it but I want to be fair. Any info would be appreciated!


I will tag @saef on this post, our resident chip inlay expert :wink: she will give you the low- down on this bracelet

Thank you very much :heart:

I don’t recognize the initials for this maker.

Chip inlay consists of tiny pieces of turquoise or coral, originally left over from working on other pieces, mixed with a clear epoxy resin and then spread into a recessed design. The artist will then push or tweeze the pieces around to achieve a mosaic effect.

Anything using epoxy resin isn’t going to be really old. Tommy Singer is credited with originating this technique in the 1960s. Chip inlay is still made today but I’m going to guess that it peaked sometime in the 1970s.

Thunderbirds and peyote birds are a common motif, connected with the peyote religious ceremony.

Some of the chip inlay artists will cover their pieces with stamping, scoring and recessed areas or use patterns taken from blankets and pottery. Those are the pieces that will sell at higher prices. Currently $700 would be too high for this relatively simple design, even with a large central stone.

What concerns me here is the condition.The second from the bottom close-up photograph is problematic. The surface of the chop inlay looks abraded (or even as if someone has tried to work on it since it was made – but I think it’s abraded) and there appears to be a crack spreading from the tail into the silver. The crack is wider on the right but there’s also a crack on the left-hand side. There’s so sign of an attempt to repair/stabilize this crack. When it spreads further, the piece is not only going to be badly compromised, the inlay is going to pop out.

Here’s a question you should ask yourself honestly:

Do you want to buy it mostly because you want to help out a friend with heart problems? Is this a case of being charitable under cover of buying jewelry?

Or do you want to buy it because you love it and it speaks to you, and this is the best piece of chip inlay you’ve seen in your price range?

Do a search on eBay for “chip inlay cuff” and sort the results by price, and you will see what is available in certain price ranges. I am seeing well-designed cuffs in good condition for less than $300.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness in responding with such detail. Yes she did bend the cuff to fit so it did hurt the inlay. She says it’s not falling out and I was thinking since it’s not something I would wear daily it might be ok. However it’s probably too large for me as well. She told me she would sell to me for $200. I was just trying to be fair in the event it was more valuable. But if it’s going to fall apart on me (the Sterling is also bent) then it would be more of a donation to help her. Thank you for your insight. :blush:

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Old additional question… Pictured here is a domed silver ring with chip jet set in epoxy resin(?) Some say its enamel but after closer attention i see little black chips under what appears to be clear coat. This ring i had in 1980-'86 or thereabouts and was sold to our shop as a “Begay” piece… There is no makers mark on inside… Can anyone please help with discerning if this is Legit Navajo, Please, or simply enamel?