Handmade Navajo Pearls

by Virginia Tso

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A look inside
The bead making process
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Virginia's Story

For Virginia, bead making is a family tradition that goes back many years and has been passed down from generation to generation. Virginia Tso and her late husband Morris began making handmade sterling silver beads more than 30 years ago.  Virginia learned silversmithing from her paternal grandmother, Helen Silversmith who lived to be 108 years old.  Her grandmother learned from her father, Sam Silversmith.  He was given this name because he was so highly respected by the community for his jewelry making.  Virginia and Morris took what they learned and added their own creative touch, making beads in all styles, shapes and sizes...round beads, flat beads, melon beads, fluted beads, and saucer beads strung in many different lengths and endless combinations.  Each necklace is accompanied by earrings.  The process involves melting down scrap silver, rolling it into sheets, cutting out the rough shapes, doming each bead, stamping or shaping, punching the hole, soldering each half together, filing and buffing to a shiny finish or oxidizing  to a soft satin patina, and finally stringing them on a chain.  This is the traditional way of making handmade beads.  Virginia is one of the few Navajo silversmiths who still makes her sterling silver beads completely by hand.

The Handmade Shorties

16-20" Necklace & earring sets

The Handmade Classics

20-30" Necklace & earring sets 

The Handmade Tso Longs
30-60" necklace & earring set

Nicely nested layering necklaces

The Handmade Biggies

Earrings & bracelets