Navajo silversmiths began casting silver jewelry with tufa stone in the late 1870’s. Tufa casting is a traditional process using natural materials. Tufa is compressed volcanic ash which is porous, and leaves an identifiable texture on finished silver or gold. The tufa stone is found on the Navajo reservation. Once a right sized stone has been found, it is cut in half and smoothed to prepare a carving surface. A sprue hole is carved at the top where the molten metal will be poured in once the carving is compete. The artist carves the design onto the inside surfaces of the stone, then the stone is heated to carbonize it, and the two sides of the mold are bound together. Molten metal is them poured in thru the sprue and left to cool. Once the hardened metal is taken out of the mold, it is sanded and cleaned by hand, and shaped into it’s final form. Tufa stone is very fragile, and the molds often will only last for one casting, making tufa cast items unique creations.
This tufa cast cuff features Kingman Turquoise, first mined by Native Americans as early as 600 AD, Kingman Turquoise is a classic American Turquoise. The Arizona turquoise mine became famous for its nuggets, which few mines produce. Today, Kingman Turquoise is highly prized and sought after by collectors everywhere, and it's one of the more easily recognized American Turquoises.