July 30, 2012

Northwest Coast Native Bracelets: Variations in Sizes and Materials

John Brent Bennett, sterling silver bracelet, Dogfish, 1" x 7", $600.00 CAD
Bracelets have always been important potlatch gifts and are often symbols of rank. Prior to contact with European settlers, bracelets were made of dentalia shell, horn and copper, which was the only local and quarried metal at the time. When colonial activity increased, bracelets were made from gold and silver coins that were traded, hammered flat and cut to shape. This hammered and processed metal was then engraved with both figures for the market and traditional Northwest Coast Native crest symbols. These early coins are easy to identify because the metal is generally very thin and springy.

Today the most common materials used for engraved cuffs are sterling silver and 14k yellow gold. Some artists, such as Steve Smith, have also been expanding into other materials like maple and birch wood. While many of the designs and techniques are traditional, European jewellery techniques have now also been explored including stone-setting and repousse

Most of the bracelets that we carry in stock at the gallery are 6" in length. This length tends to fit most wrists, but can also be shaped and molded to fit a particular wrist. We are able to order custom sizes for wrists that are larger or smaller than 6" length.

Currently in the gallery, we have a wide selection of bracelets ranging in size from Justin Rivard's sterling silver baby bracelets (available for $120.00 CAD each) to larger 7" bracelets such as John Brent Bennett's Dogfish bracelet (available for $600.00 CAD).

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