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

Shortie 24

Shortie 24

18" sterling silver necklace & earring set, fluted 17mm graduated $930

Shortie 32

Shortie 32

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, flat fluted center $900

Shortie 30

Shortie 30

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, mixed melon $900

Shortie 31

Shortie 31

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, mixed saucer $900

Shortie 33

Shortie 33

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, fluted 17mm, melon $900

Shortie 28

Shortie 28

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, smooth 17mm mixed $900

Shortie 18

Shortie 18

19" sterling silver necklace & earring set, graduated 24mm $1800

Shortie 19

Shortie 19

16" sterling silver necklace & earring set, mixed smooth bead 19mm $900

The Handmade Classics

20-30" Necklace & earring sets 

Classic 23

Classic 23

26" sterling silver Naja necklace & earring set, smooth round 14mm, $1400

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

The Handmade Multi strands

Multi 1

Multi 1

18" sterling silver necklace & earring set, 2 strand shown twisted, 9mm beads, $1050

Multi 4

Multi 4

3 in 1 sterling silver necklace & earring set, 3 strand 22, 24, 27", largest fluted bead 20mm, $2700

The Handmade Biggies

Biggie 2

Biggie 2

22" sterling silver necklace & earring set, graduated, 4 biggie beads 28mm, $2100

Biggie 3

Biggie 3

23" sterling silver necklace & earring set, 4 biggie beads 34mm, $2700

Biggie 5

Biggie 5

20" sterling silver necklace & earring set, graduated, largest bead 43mm $2900

Biggie 7

Biggie 7

24" sterling silver necklace & earring set, graduated, large beads 3-43mm $3800

Biggie 11

Biggie 11

23.5" sterling silver necklace & earring set, biggest bead 43mm $3300

Biggie 12

Biggie 12

22.5" sterling silver necklace & earring set, 5 big 43mm beads, $3900

Earrings & bracelets