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Concho Belts (Concha Belts)

Among the most striking pieces of Native American jewelry are the Concho belts. They are handcrafted by Native American artists and silversmiths that we happen to have working in our shop at Alltribes, in Gilbert, Arizona. Therefore, the beauty and workmanship are unsurpassed. Most of our artists are members of the Navajo tribe, using their artistry to bring out the natural beauty in the precious metals and stones they

Concho Belts are almost always made of sterling silver with detailed hand-stamped designs, and often, have set or inlaid stones of Turquoise, Lapis, Coral, etc. Although Concho belts are typically associated with Navajo jewelry, we at Alltribes will occasionally carry Zuni Concho belts or Hopi Concho belts, as well. Often they are stylishly large and worn over pants or a dress, but occasionally they are small enough to be worn through belt loops. Equally appropriate for men’s or women’s attire, these belts are an opportunity for each silversmith to show their creativity, ability, and artistic expression. Beautifully and skillfully handcrafted, these works are wearable Native American Indian Art masterpieces.

“Concho Belt” (sometimes called “Concha Belt”) refers to a belt of Conchos (or conchas). The word Concho comes from the Spanish word “concha”, meaning “conch” or “seashell” or just “shell”, but has come to more commonly mean oval, round, or occasionally rectangular discs of silver used to adorn belts, jewelry and horse bridles.

History of Concho Belts

Concho belts are a long-time Navajo tradition, yet it is widely believed that the Navajo jewelry artists and silversmiths borrowed the design elements of Conchos from Mexican horse bridles or from the hair ornaments of the Plains Indians (both of which likely originally came from the Spanish). However they originated, through adaptation or artistic exploration, they are now uniquely a Native American art form and exemplify the Southwestern look. The earliest Conchos were hammered flat from mostly Mexican or US silver coins, then hand-stamped and edged, then strung together onto a piece of leather through slots in the Conchos to create the Concho belt. Later in the evolution of Concho belts, copper loops were soldered to the back of the Conchos, so that the Conchos could be slipped onto leather belts. By the early 1900’s, buckles were added along with “butterfly” spacers and turquoise stones were set onto the Conchos, buckles and butterflies. Because the earliest Conchos were mostly fashioned from silver coins hammered into discs (Conchos), it is thought that these early Concho belts became the symbol of wealth. Also, they have served as important ceremonial accents at different times. This is evidenced by the widespread use of Turquoise, which is recognized for healing properties in the sterling Concho belts.

There are generally two types of Concho belts: leather and link. The leather Concho belts can be worn at the waist or on the hips, as the Conchos are adjustable along the leather. The link Concho belts are connected by rings and fasten with a hook that can be attached anywhere on the belt. This makes the Concho belts easier to fit, so that just about anyone can where them.

We only sell authentic Native American Concho belts here at Alltribes. The Concho belt is a true symbol of the American Southwest. It is authentic and handcrafted, and impressive by anyone’s standards. It is a beautifully-crafted piece of work and wearable too! What more could a proud owner of one ask for? We would pride ourselves in finding or making one for you that would suit you perfectly. Check us out!!

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