Johnny Mike Begay Concho Belt


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Johnny Mike Begay Concho Belt

Johnny Mike Begay Concho Belt. This incredible concho belt is handmade by the late Johnny Mike Begay. Each concho features a piece of sleeping beauty turquoise set in the center of the concho. The concho measures 2 1/2″ by 2″ inches and there are 10 conchos and 1 buckle. The buckle measures 4″ inches by 2 1/2″ inches. The total length of the belt is 39″ inches long.

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise

The Sleeping Beauty Mine, located in Globe, Arizona, is no longer an active mine. For many years it produced a wide range of turquoise that is now even more highly prized for it’s solid soft blue color, with little or no matrix. The color of the turquoise ranges from a deep royal blue to a light sky blue. The mine originally was worked for copper and gold but during the last five decades or so it has produced gemstone quality turquoise in quantities to satisfy the commercial market. In general, the miners lease portions of the “dumps” and sort turquoise from there.

There is a small town in south central Italy, near Naples, famous for its cameos. Their needs for huge quantities of this material over the years have always kept the supply down and demand high. The clear blue is reminiscent of old Persian turquoise, and is without doubt the most preferred and prized by Europeans, both for cameos as well as in bead or jewelry form.

There is a sister mine nearby, called the Bluebird, that produces some of the world’s most beautiful azurite. This material is a copper oxide and also contains malachite, crysacolla as well as a mineralized copper or cuprite. This is a rare and undervalued gem stone that has all but disappeared from the marketplace.

Johnny Mike Begay

Johnny Mike Begay lived in Houck, Arizona.  He received several awards at the 1976 Santa Fe Indian Market, apparently the last year of his life.  His work was included in “Jewels of the Southwest” at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe in 2002.