Unfinished Zuni turquoise Knife-wing

Recently I visited a friend whose husband was an avid NA art and jewelry collector/seller. He was also a wonderful mentor to me. Anyway when she was showing me a lot of wonderful items she has found doing through closets, boxes, etc., we came across this wonderful turquoise Knifewing set, sans the setting (which is sometimes the most interesting part). I just thought it was interesting so she said it needed to go home with me. So now it’s mine and I’m wondering what to do…keep it as is or have it set in sterling as a pendant. If I find an NA jeweler (preferably Zuni) willing to work with me, I’d like to go that route. Any thoughts, suggestions?


Neat find! My thoughts:
You can surely use a Navajo jeweler to complete this, since silverwork is the Navajo specialty, and that sort of collaboration isn’t uncommon. As you know, Zuni folks excel at lapidary skills, and here you are with the stones ready to go.

I can’t tell the scale because of no size reference shown. If it’s normal size for a pin or pendant or bolo, any of those would be great solutions.

Give thought to the bezeling you want: sawtooth would be most traditional. If you have a talented silver worker, consider adding edging/border like you see in Zuni inlay pieces. For ex.:

zuni 1


Yea, I should have included something for scale. It’s relatively large, about 2.5” x 1.85”. I remember years ago Leonard Martza set up at Pueblo Trading at Zuni. I have a Knifewing by him with that fine sawtooth bezelwork. As I remember he did the silverwork on his pieces. I know many Zuni collaborate with Navajo for silverwork, and that was 20+ years ago, so I’m questioning myself.
Thanks for the input @chicfarmer. All of my knifewings are the typical fine multi-stone mosaic overlay, so solid turquoise overlay seems different, kind of “chunky”, especially one so large. So, since I don’t know the Zuni artist, or even if this is Zuni lapidary work, I may consider a different style pendant. Although knowing who I got it from, I’d bet it is Zuni and I do want the fine bezelwork.
I’m in no hurry, it’s more fun than anything else :smile:. If you know of a Navajo artist who might do this type of work, please let me know.


Thanks @Steve. I’d love to have a NA artist since I think this was Zuni lapidary work. But I got a say both MM Rodgers and Stracci are impressive, I appreciate the info!


Going against the grain here. I would keep it as is. Not sure how common it is to find stones in this state, but I think it makes for an interesting display.


You could try Chatfields Jewelry. They are in the Albuquerque area.
They employ some great Navajo smiths like Brenda Jimenez, Freddy Charlie and others.
They are on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy.

You can message Sherri Chatfield (@chatfieldsjewelry) on Instagram

Good luck, it will be a cool piece!


Thanks for the thoughts and information! @TAH I am considering keeping it as is, but then unless I display it in some way, it will get put away and not appreciated. I’ll likely talk with some jewelers, as Stracci suggested, then we’ll see. Wish I knew more about the set!

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source: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1436521257/vintage-native-american-turquoise


And what beautiful stones they are. @Bmpdvm lovely!

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We use to get these cut sets from Zuni artist Betty Natachu. They are amazing.