“Summer Gathering” Bracelet
Arland Ben has streaked up to the highest level of award-winning jewelers with his meticulously wrought, beautifully designed pieces that feature brilliant gold accents and the highest quality stones. This, his latest piece for us, is a complete departure in design, while maintaining the expected excellence, of course.He has virtually drawn in silver, with the confidence of a master jeweler. Depicting a gathering of socializing Navajo at a dance or ceremony, the figures are simplified, yet perfectly natural in stance and the carefully curated details. Broomstick skirts, concho belts, squash blossom necklaces, moccasins, blankets, and “rez hats” for the men, are all vividly suggested in overlay silver. With deft strokes, the artist has created an animated, group, that we can “see” in our mind’s eye in full detail.The base of the cuff is textured in two ways: the top half is subtly stippled, to suggest the sky. The bottom half has a pattern of cross-hatch lines that represent the earth. In the center, a superb, spider web, natural turquoise is set in an 18-karat gold, boldly hand -cut bezel that brings out the brilliant blue of the stone. The gorgeous round stone suggests the head of a figure, and the beautiful orange spiny oyster shell below it tapers from rounded “shoulders”, to continue the allusion to an ancestral spirit. The dramatically hand cut bezel around the shell is of sterling, so that the 18-karat gold water spiral below it stands out. The spiral symbolizes both water, and the river of life, very appropriate for the theme of an annual gathering. This is a unique bracelet, a true work of art in a totally different vein from the more recognizable pieces from this award-winning, multi-talented artist. Not only beautiful, and impeccably made, but a real conversation piece, as well.