Henry Yazzie is a master Native American silversmith who has worked at Old Town Trading Co. and Jewels of the West in Scottsdale for nearly 30 years. Now that the stores have merged and added “Old Town Jewels” as an eCommerce store, you can acquire one-of-a-kind pieces created by Henry even if you’re not in Scottsdale. Henry was born and raised in Leupp, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. He began his silversmithing career in the eighth grade working in Flagstaff, Arizona chipping the turquoise and coral pieces to be inlaid into the silver jewelry that was quite popular at the time. He quickly moved up to soldering, and over time picked up many techniques of jewelry fabrication. He excels not only in leaf work and rich traditional designs, but is adept at duplication and repair.
Henry’s hallmark is distinctive. The lower right corner of a capital “H” is connected to the upper left corner of a capital “Y”. We often see other pieces attributed to Henry because of similar hallmarks but they are not his. Remember to always look at the style of the jewelry as well as the exact hallmark configuration.
This is Henry’s hallmark and an example of his work. Because he works in our shop and creates custom pieces, it’s not always easy to determine Henry’s “signature style”, but his fabrication techniques are flawless and each piece is weighty and well finished.
This is a hallmark by an artist whose initials also happen to be “HY”. This artist stamps a capital “H” well away from a capital “Y”. We believe this is a Navajo artist who may be Harold Yazzie or Harry Young, but we’re not certain. The style, however, is consistent – “story” or “storyteller” jewelry featuring tiny images of everyday life on the Navajo reservation.
Another “HY” that is often confused for Henry is a little harder to spot. We believe this artist is named Henrietta Yesele, but we have no proof other than the silversmiths’ memories of someone they knew years ago. Take a look at how the lower leg of the capital “Y” is at a slant – Henry’s is straight. It’s these tiny differences that are important in a correct assessment of the artist. This “HY” artist also creates leaf work, but her/his style is quite different than Henry’s.
One final “HY” hallmark is perhaps the hardest to differentiate. Late Hopi artist Hubert Yowytewa used the same letter configuration as Henry, but his stamp was accompanied by his father Arthur Yowytewa’s sunface stamp.
Please leave a comment if you are familiar with any of the “HY” artists listed. We’d love to update our database!!