Mentored by his uncle, the late, celebrated Fred Kabotie, founder of the “Hopi style” of jewelry and the Hopi Guild (which trained many jewelers), Watson is now famous as a major prize-winning jeweler, himself.
He is especially noted for intricate workmanship, the high drama of his designs, and beautiful mixing of silver and gold.
This exceptionally striking bracelet demonstrates his faultless command of metal work and design.
The thick, gleaming 14-karat gold designs are especially effective against the velvety dark, textured silver background.
The contrast is dramatic, and the warmth of the gold sets off the highly polished silver that frames the wildlife.
The iconic animals include, from left to right: buffalo, elk, bear, and mountain lion.
For southwestern tribes, the mountain lion, the bear, and the elk can be considered totem animals.
Each animal vignette has a pair of stepped rain and sacred kiva signs at the top.
The stepped silver motifs refer to water, the very precious source of life, especially for the dry-farming Hopi, and the steps down to the kivas, sacred spaces where ceremonies and regalia are prepared.
The bear is almost universally revered for its strength, intelligence, and ability to hunt and survive.
The mountain lion is another powerful predator, symbol of strength and hunting skill, while the elk is a prey animal, important for providing meat, hide, and antlers.
The buffalo is an icon of the Plains, where it provisioned meat, clothing, dwellings, hide canvases to record deeds, and more.
Each of these animals symbolizes good luck: good hunting and good eating result in health and happiness.
This bracelet is perfection of execution and design, as expected from this much-honored artist.
Not as intricate as some of Watson’s work, it is dramatic and impressive, esthetically and symbolically.
Casual and elegant at once, it is easy to wear often.