There are more than one thousand pieces of jewelry in the collections at IARC, demonstrating the detailed workmanship of Navajo and Pueblo jewelers from the late nineteenth century to the present. Some of the oldest pieces are Navajo concha belts from before the 1870s, and the most recent pieces include works by noted jewelers such as Connie Tsosie Gaussoin, David Gaussoin, and Mike Bird Romero.
The main strength of the jewelry collection is the historic nineteenth-century Navajo silverwork. The Navajo collection varies in size from tiny silver buttons to the largest examples of the silversmith’s art—headstalls for horses. In between are a wide variety of rings, bracelets, ketohs (bow guards), concha belts, squash blossom necklaces, buckles, and canteens.
The largest group of Pueblo jewelry is from Zuni and includes bracelets, buckles, earrings, necklaces, large inlay silver boxes, and bolo ties. There is a substantial collection of 1920s–1950s “Route 66” silverwork which was made by many different tribal silversmiths for sale to tourists. Also included is a good collection of southern Plains Indian German silver. A wide range of techniques are represented, including mosaic inlay, overlay, needlepoint, cast silver, and shell beadwork.
Diné (Navajo) Bracelet. Silver. Maker unknown. c. 1887. IAF.S2. Photograph by Addison Doty.