The world of Southwest jewelry is rich with traditional symbols that have stood the test of time. One such item is the concho, a beautiful silver disk that has been used to create stunning belts for generations. The concho is a versatile piece that has been adapted and transformed over the years, yet its popularity remains as strong as ever.
The early techniques of silversmithing were introduced to the Southwest by the Spanish, and Native American artists soon adopted and adapted these techniques to make them their own. One of the most iconic items they created was the concho, which gets its name from the Spanish word "concha," meaning "seashell." The earliest conchos were made by hammering and stamping silver dollars before stringing them onto strips of leather to create a belt. These belts were typically adorned with intricate stamped designs that were breathtaking in their beauty.
Today, concho belts are still a popular fashion accessory, and modern techniques have made them even more versatile than ever before. Instead of being attached to a leather belt with copper loops on the back, conchos can now be connected to each other by silver rings without the need for a leather backing. Belts without the leather are fitted with a hook at the end that allows them to be tightened or loosened as needed. For leather belts, there is either a regular buckle at the end or a prong that can be inserted into a hole in the belt.
One of the most striking features of a concho belt is the intricate stamped designs that adorn the silver disks. Some artists also add turquoise stones or other gems to their conchos, adding a touch of color and texture to the piece. The addition of turquoise jewelry to the concho is particularly striking, as turquoise is a beloved gemstone in the Southwest and is often used in Native American jewelry. The combination of real silver jewelry and turquoise jewelry creates a stunning effect that is truly unique.
Concho belts are typically worn over clothing, as they are too large to fit through belt loops. They are a favorite accessory for both men and women and can be worn with a variety of outfits. They are a strong symbol of the adaptability of Native culture and artistry, and their popularity shows no signs of waning. In fact, the beauty and versatility of the concho make it an enduring symbol of the Southwest and a treasured piece of handmade jewelry that will continue to captivate people for generations to come.
The concho is a classic symbol of the Southwest and a beautiful example of the artistry and craftsmanship of Native American jewelry. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the adaptability and resilience of Native culture, and its beauty and versatility make it a treasured piece of handmade artisan jewelry that will continue to captivate people for years to come. Whether adorned with turquoise or other gems, the concho belt is a true masterpiece of Southwest jewelry that should be cherished and celebrated.