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TURQUOISE, CORAL, SUGALITE, AND GOLD BRACELET AND RING BY CHARLES LOLOMA, HOTEVILLA, ARIZONA , CIRCA 1975

A bracelet composed of turquoise rounds set into gold channels, the ends tipped with coral and sugalite, together with a ring of stacked turquoise, coral, sugalite, malachite, and gold; mounted in 18-karat gold

  • Both signed Loloma
  • Bracelet: 2 3/4 x 2 x 1 3/4 inches, Ring: 1 1/16 x 7/8 x 9/16 inches
  • Ring Size: 5 1/2

Additional cataloguing

Provenance

Betty Melaver

 

Literature

Struever, Martha Hopkins. Loloma. Santa Fe: The Wheelright Museum of the American Indian, 2005, p. 134 (ring).

 

Biography

Charles Loloma was born to the Badger Clan in 1921 on the Third Mesa of the Arizona Hopi Reservation. Involved in the arts from a young age, while in high school he helped a Hopi artist paint murals for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. He studied pottery, and in 1954 opened a shop in Scottsdale. Loloma began to make jewelry and found his passion incorporating traditional materials and forms with new materials and modern interpretation. Produced until the mid 1980s, his work is included in important museum collections and has been the subject of a book and several exhibitions. Frank Lloyd Wright was a notable client.

 

Significance

Charles Loloma is the finest Native American jeweler of the twentieth century. In the 1960s and 1970s, he created beautiful bold jewelry that both drew on his native roots, and incorporated a broader experience with the arts. Loloma combined stacked stone and mosaic in unusual color and material combinations. While he drew on his Hopi ancestry for the origins of his art and material choices, using turquoise and silver, he also incorporated unusual materials, such as sugilite, lapis, ivory, wood, and fossilized wood in his designs. The finest of these designs were set in a vibrant polished gold showcasing the stacked and fitted stones.

This unusual bracelet incorporates stacked turquoise beads set in channels of gold, likely inspired by the Egyptian jewelry he studied. Each segment is tipped with gold, coral, and sugalite in an inspired detail that shows the consideration and skill of the design. The open spaces between the turquoise segments is intended to evoke the traditional use of bead strands wrapped around the wrist, but in a refined way that recalls the work of Art Deco French jewelers such as Boivin and Belperron. The corresponding ring incorporates stacked stones and gold in a bold vertical piece with an unusual shape reminiscent of a natural landscape. The placement of stones in each of Loloma’s design is purposeful and considered in the service of creating wearable beauty.

Novelist N. Scott Momaday said of the artist, that while he was true to his Hopi roots, “In his art he achieved universal expression. The vision that informed his work is .  . . inspiration raised to the highest level; it has its being in terms of wonder and delight and the deepest reverence for the essentially beautiful. Beyond other men, Charles Loloma perceived beauty in the earth, in the water, and in the sky. And with great precision and boundless imagination, he reflected truly in the nearly perfect things that came from his hands.” This beautiful set of an unusual bracelet and ring by Charles Loloma would be an important addition to any collection.

This suite was owned by Betty Melaver, wife of Norton Meleaver, a super market magnate from Savannah, Georgia. They were known for their philanthropy and art collection.