This handcrafted sterling silver concho belt created by Navajo silversmith Dan Martinez features blue turquoise at the center of each concho and is a beautiful example of superior craftmanship and artistry.
An icon of Native American jewelry, the concho belt was developed from Plains Indians' hair ornaments and Spanish bridle decorations, and became a distinctly Navajo form of jewelry. The concha is one of the most widely recognized shapes in Native American jewelry, featuring a silver oval or circle that is stamped with a central radiating design. A concho belt features a number of these silver ornaments along a belt. The first concho belts were made by Navajo silversmiths in the 1870s–1880s.
More than a century after its creation, the concho belt remains one of the most celebrated forms of Native American art, showcasing the artistry and expertise of Native Southwestern silversmiths. The traditional style of wearing concho belts is over layered clothing, often gathering a long blouse or dress. The belt usually falls over the hips, though the wearer can determine exactly where the belt sits most comfortably.
About the Artist
Dan Martinez is an accomplished Navajo silversmith who is most known for his extraordinary sterling silver concho belts. In his work he is inspired by Navajo jewelry traditions and styles of the early 20th century.
Jewelry has been made and worn in the Southwest since prehistoric times. For thousands of years Native Southwestern people made mosaic inlay and beads of turquoise, shell, bone, or stone. Metal arrived with the Spanish. Native Americans acquired metal ornaments through trade, but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Navajo and Zuni artisans learned the craft from Mexican blacksmiths and silversmiths. Their early silver jewelry creations were plain, with simple engraved, stamped, or punched designs. Turquoise was first used in silver around 1880.
By the turn of the 20th century, silversmithing was widespread across the Southwest, and Native artists were making more sophisticated pieces like concho belts, and squash blossom and naja necklaces. The Navajo soon became known for their use of silver, emphasizing silver-heavy designs with only a few gemstones, while the Zuni focused on stone work, featuring finely cut clusters of gems in complex patterns. The Hopi and Pueblo tribes also developed distinctive jewelry styles in the early 1900s. Today, silver jewelry is an iconic image of the Southwest.Read our Native American Jewelry Collector's Guide.
Our Guarantee of Authenticity
At Shumakolowa Native Arts, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft. At a time when many commercially-made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 35 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.