Charles Loloma: Vertical Compositions  

Charles Loloma: Vertical Compositions

Blog | October 18, 2016

Charles Loloma, an American artist of Hopi ancestry, created jewelry influenced by Native American traditions yet contemporary in its nature. Two notable bracelets by Loloma will be offered at the Arts of the American West auction this November.

While turquoise and silver are classic materials used in Native American jewelry, it wasn’t until the 1970s that this fashion trend was brought to the forefront of the fashion industry. Embraced by celebrities such as Cher and Jim Morrison, the style has come and gone over the years but has never completely disappeared. Now, once again, it is taking center stage in the fashion arena.


WWD touted turquoise in a 2016 jewelry trend, and it appears on the most recent album cover of up and coming folk rock band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.

The album cover of up and coming folk rock band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats features turquoise jewelry.

Charles Loloma (1921-1971) is one of the better-known jewelry designers who worked with turquoise and other materials in a Native American fashion. His aesthetic was steeped in the Hopi tradition, his native tribe, but his genius was giving it a contemporary edge, in part by introducing non-traditional Hopi materials like lapis, coral and gold.


World-renowned Loloma authority, Martha Hopkins Struever, wrote, “When I first saw Charles Loloma’s jewelry, in an issue of Arizona Highways in the early 1970s, I was stunned by its beauty. The artist who created these pieces was an extraordinary individual-  a person so gifted that if I was going to collect American Indian art, this was someone I wanted to know and whose work I would collect.”


Today, his jewelry is featured in museum collections such as the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe.

Charles Loloma, an American artist of Hopi ancestry with a passion for jewelry design.

Loloma was born in Hoteville, Arizona. While in high school, his artistic career began as a painter and muralist when Fred Kabotie asked Loloma to assist him in the reproduction of murals from the Awatovi site on the Hopi reservation for New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Loloma later worked for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 with Kabotie and René d’Harnoncourt. The group designed murals in the Federal Building on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.


Loloma went on to study ceramics and open a pottery shop with his wife in Scottsdale. Despite the popularity of “Lolomaware,” the artist is best known for his jewelry making, which took precedence over his other crafts. “Nothing in the vast realm of Southwestern jewelry is as unique, as identifiable and as in demand as the contemporary design, craftsmanship and awe inspiring work of Charles Loloma,” says Annie McLagan, Managing Director of the Denver Regional office at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.


Two notable bracelets by Loloma will be offered at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ Arts of the American West sale in Denver on November 10. “The bracelets we are offering are circa 1975 and are fashioned in Loloma’s dramatically vertical composition. They have never before been offered as they were purchased directly from the artist,” says McLagan.

The first is an 18 karat yellow gold, turquoise and lapis bracelet circa 1975 ($30,000-$50,000) and a silver, wood, lapis, coral and 18 karat yellow gold bracelet, circa 1975 ($20,000-$40,000). In addition, a pair of silver, turquoise, coral and ironwood Loloma earclips ($500-$700) are for sale.


These items as well as other Southwestern jewelry and collecting categories can be viewed at in the online catalogue.

back to top