Corbet Joe Silver Cuff with Red Coral and Turquoise Chip Inlay

C4569U-bracelet.jpg

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Corbet Joe, Diné Silversmith
  • Category: Bracelets
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: silver, coral, turquoise
  • Size: 2-⅛” width;
    1-¼” opening;
    Wrist Size: 6-½” interior
  • Item # C4569U
  • Price: $450

This unique cuff was made by Diné of the Navajo Nation artist Corbet Joe.  The artist fashioned a lovely, curving shape to the cuff out of sterling silver that tapers at the wrist edges, and begins to expand back outward as it wraps around to the underside. Geometric hearts were incised onto both edges and left empty of stone inlay.  

A similarly empty channel frames the whole of the cuff and is broken by a wider channel on both the top and bottom that spiral at the edges and have been meticulously filled with stellar pieces of turquoise.  Two more figures resembling birds or even bears were inlaid with turquoise chips.  Arrows in multiples and pointing toward and away from each other ornament the open spaces and are inlaid with saturated red coral chips.  Put together, this manifests in a simple but elegant cuff. 

Signature of artist Corbet Joe, Diné SilversmithCorbet Joe is another mysterious jeweler as of yet unfamiliar to Adobe Gallery, and we are pleased to experience some of his work.  From what can be gleaned, Corbet Joe is a Diné artist who tends to focus on creating turquoise and red coral chip inlay silver jewelry.  Chip inlay work is an exponentially tedious process that involves placing very small pieces of crushed gemstones into channeled inlays, piece by piece, and finishing it with epoxy resin.  It requires incredible amounts of patience and willpower and can result in absolutely stunning finished pieces of jewelry.  Corbet Joe signs his work, C J with the letters typically offset. 

The inventor of chip inlay was Tommy Singer (1940-2014), a silversmith who was a member of the Navajo Nation from Winslow Arizona.   Singer grew up on the Navajo reservation and was taught his craft by his father beginning at the age of seven.  Over time, he honed his craft working from a small studio surrounded by friends and family.  Singer is credited with inventing the “chip-inlay” technique in the 1960’s alongside his brothers William, Charlie and Jackie.  They did so using inlaid turquoise and coral pieces in silver laid out in traditional Navajo designs. 

When asked about his work, Singer said, "Every piece is made with the various meanings from my traditional ways - the Navajo way of living. My father was a silversmith, too. He taught me, and wanted me to continue this trade. It was my father's dream that I learn to silversmith so that I could continue his beliefs (Gregory Schaaf, 2003, page 292)."


Condition: this bracelet has acquired some lovely patina to the silver and is in excellent condition. 

Provenance: this Corbet Joe Silver Cuff with Red Coral and Turquoise Chip Inlay is from an estate in eastern Washington. 

Resources: American Indian Jewelry I by Gregory Schaaf, page 292

Recommended Reading: Evolving Southwest Indian Jewelry by Nancy N. Schiffer

Relative Links: Navajo NationSouthwest Indian JewelryCorbet JoeTommy SingerCharlie Singer


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Alternate view of this bracelet with different lighting.

Corbet Joe, Diné Silversmith
  • Category: Bracelets
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: silver, coral, turquoise
  • Size: 2-⅛” width;
    1-¼” opening;
    Wrist Size: 6-½” interior
  • Item # C4569U
  • Price: $450

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