Stamped Cross Dangle Earrings


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Stamped Cross Dangle Earrings

Sterling Silver Stamped Cross Dangle Earrings by Tawney Willie and Alan Cruz. These cross earrings feature scalloped stamping as well as teardrop turquoise stones hanging from the tips of the cross. It measures 1.5″x 2″ and has silver ear wires.

Tawney Willie & Alan Cruz

The Willie clan was introduced to silversmithing when the oldest son, Lonnie, attended the Albuquerque Indian School in the early 70s and began developing  his own designs. Lonnie showed his parents Andy and May Willie what he was learning.  They in turn shared techniques with other relatives and neighbors in To’hajilee.  Styles began to develop and mature.  Lonnie became highly-recognized and received numerous awards in the 80s and beyond.  He and brother Rudy taught their younger siblings. The Willies are well-known for their own hand-made stamps  used to create bold designs. Their stamping designs include stars, chevrons, balls, ovals, diamonds, hearts, Greek crosses and many others. Their stamping is clean, crisp and deep. They use heavy-gauge (16) for their bracelets and pendants. Some are hammered; others, not. The current silversmith-clan members are Laura, Melissa, Ronnie, Rudy (and wife Happy) and the younger generation – Dakota, Cooper, Tawney and Alan, and Davana.

The next ‘generation’ of Willie silversmiths has finally ’arrived’.  Daughter Tawney and husband Alan Cruz are creating new designs in earrings, pendants and bracelets.  Inspired and taught by her father, Lonnie Willie, the couple are creating intricate and innovative earring designs. They are using both family stamps and newer ones.

Tawney, at 30, and Alan, at 28, have the desire and knowledge to produce great pieces of art. They began working in copper, using family designs, in late 2015.

Since the summer of 2016, they began working in silver, selecting quality stones and learning from their illustrious father. I have been working with them since then.

The Willie family work is in great demand and is selling in Europe as well as throughout the country. Some lesser artists copy the Willie designs but the differences are clear to the discerning eye. The family signage is a script “Willie” with an initial or two before the family name.

History of Native American Jewelry

The History of Native American Jewelry is deeply rooted in the culture of the American Southwest. Certain historical processes have given American Indian jewelry a strong presence in today’s modern style. The use of Turquoise is by far the most influential aspect of ancient Indian jewelry used in modern western fashion. Archeological evidence supports the theory that stones, which include turquoise, shells, and carved fetishes, predate the Christian epoch. Turquoise that was found in Hohokam excavations in southern Arizona has dated back to 200 B.C. Even older in central Mexico, approximately 600-700 B.C., and in South America about 900 B.C.

Native American Jewelry has a unique past. Knowing that story is the key to understanding the Indian jewelry styles of today. Native Americans started making silver jewelry in the late 1800’s when the Spaniards came, making jewelry, ornaments for their horses and trinkets for barter. But the Indian jewelry made before this time provided the foundation for their own style. Although the tribes and their styles vary, some common themes persist. There is significant evidence of beaded Turquoise jewelry. Turquoise and shell, paired with feathers would be strung and hung from every place possible. Yarn, leather, and sinew were woven into patterns and incorporated into necklaces, bracelets and clothing with the stones and shell. Other unique, beautiful items from nature would be included as much as possible. In Arizona this jewelry dates back over 2300 years, during the Hohokam era. Metal was rare but not out of the picture entirely. Some archeologists suggest gold and silver was worked by certain tribes in North America during this ancient time but its use would have been limited. Gold and Silver was worked by the Native peoples of Mexico and Central America since the time of the Aztec, so its possible Native American tribes living in the southwest region could be aware of metal working in some way much earlier than the Spanish arrival. It is even difficult to put a date on just when the Native Americans started making silver jewelry after the Spanish arrival. Some authorities will say the 1870’s some the 1890’s.