This huge vintage cuff bracelet came from the estate of Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis (1906-1991), a pioneer in dendrochronology who went on to become a leading authority on Pueblo Indians. She had a long career with the University of New Mexico's Maxwell Museum, noted as one of the "women who shaped the Maxwell." She retired at 71 and for 20 more years, until her death, she led fieldwork and taught claases at Ghost Ranch. Dr. Ellis and her husband gathered an outstanding collection of Native American treasures, almost all from the first half of the 20th Century. They cataloged everything they collected, and this piece has "B50" etched into the backplate, which we were told represents an item number. This cuff bracelet features a large--I would not hesitate to call it "massive"--natural matrixed turquoise in a stunning light blue color, parts creamy, parts deep, and much punctuated with webbing that rises to the surface in the form of fissures, cragged and fine veins, and cracks. The old way of ensuring that a crack in a turquoise stone didn't widen or cause loss in the stone was to use a special, paper-thin tape at the top, which this piece has across the largest crack. Given how old and yellow the tape is, it has likely been there since the cuff was acquired. Dr. Ellis can be seen in old photos wearing her jewelry even on digs, and that work could have caused damage to this stone, which is likely why the tape was used to begin with. Since I don't know what the stone is like under the tape, I would not recommend removing it. It has, truly, become part of the story of the cuff. And, this is also important, to find a piece of turquoise that it intact and this large, I don't think you'd want to jeopardize potentially losing any bits of turquoise at all. The teardrop-shaped stone also has areas that are smooth--cold and much like a worry stone. The bezel sits atop a heavy ingot split-wire shank, which has silver dots on either side of the framing surrounding the bezel. Hand-shaped twist wire finishes off the adornment on the sides. All of these elements are classic to jewelry from the first half of the 1900s.
The bracelet face measures about 2-5/8" wide. The shank measures 5-1/2" around not including the gap, and with a 7/8" gap is 6-3/8" total. Weighs a substantial 98g. The only mark on the interior is that catalog number.
A vanishing piece of history with excellent provenance.
Note that due to lighting plus monitor settings for brightness, contrast and other factors, there may be differences in the colors and tones of photos versus that of the actual item. Please message with questions and I will respond as soon as possible.
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