Delbert is one of the many talented siblings of our former artist-in-residence, Alvin Vandever.
This incredible necklace demonstrates that Delbert is as gifted as Alvin, although his style is very different.
Here, his favored neo-traditional style is splendidly on display.
Five, resplendent, natural Sleeping Beauty turquoise stones light up the beautifully worked silver with their radiant color.
Each stone is plump and rounded, even the teardrops in the necklace proper.
Unlike the Zuni, who would cut out all the matrix for their lapidary work, the artist has exhibited the stones in their glorious, natural state, in the Navajo way.
The silverwork is exceptional in design and execution. The necklace proper consists of four, naturalistic, silver feathers that link four gorgeous turquoise stones.
Each feather is cut out on the edges, with an applied spine. A traditional “sinew” wrap at the end completes the realistic depiction of a ceremonial eagle feather.
Each stone is surrounded by a plain silver bezel, a twisted silver rope, and a rounded silver border with cut-out edges.
The lines of the cut-out edges are repeated in the lines around each feather, and those in the silver wire wrapped below the two stones at the bottom.
The bottom of the necklace is a smooth and gleaming u-shape, rounded on the surface and flat on the underside, for wearability.
This would have been a strikingly handsome necklace all by itself, but Delbert used this lovely alternation of silver feathers and turquoise stones to support a fabulous pendant.
Long and imposing, but actually rather restrained, this thick, solid piece of silver forms an abstract eagle shape.
Another realistic feather is applied on the body, with a round, natural turquoise, in a shadowbox setting, for its eye.
Both are larger than their counterparts in the necklace.
There is a cut-out edge at the side and the top of the eagle’s head that matches the one around the turquoise teardrops, on the necklace above.
A tiny thread of twisted silver rope lies just above the other edge, again relating to the silver work on the necklace proper, and a row of five small silver balls.
Below the large feather, are four, deeply chiseled horizontal lines.
The vertical side of this abstract eagle flows into a straight, horizontal bottom that has a sandy texture.
Here is where we find an unexpected and delightful surprise: nestled into the inner curve of the eagle’s neck, is a sweet little maiden, carved from natural elk antler.
She has turquoise eyes and buttons, a red coral mouth, and round earrings.
A feather protrudes above her head, indicating her spiritual status, and she stands in a plain silver base.
Perched on a pedestal that is integrated into the pendant, is an elegantly formed, miniature silver seed pot, delicately hand stamped on top and bottom.
Aside from the formidable esthetic impression of the pendant, it carries a spiritual message: the eagle carries prayers up to the heavens, and the prayers are for a fine harvest.
Turquoise represents the heavens, feathers carry the prayers, the maiden symbolizes ceremonial dancers, and the seed pot holds the means and the hope for the coming crop.
Majestic in every way, this necklace is masterful in concept, design, individual elements, materials, and execution.
Every bit is of the highest order of esthetic splendor, extraordinary quality, and skill.
Although this necklace is sumptuously impressive and stately, it looks beautiful with casual sweaters and slacks just as easily as more formal dresses.
It will not only amortize in a short time, but it will also be a treasured heirloom for generations to come.