"Mesa" (MAY-sah) is a Spanish word used to describe flat-topped mountains common in the American southwest. It also means "table" or "workbench" and at The Silver Mesa, the silversmith's workbench is the center of activity.
Located in central Arizona, where mountains produce silver, gold, copper and turquoise, The Silver Mesa's artisans produce an impressive selection of quality sterling silver jewelry and accessories for men and women. Our designs are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the southwest, including primitive Navajo silverwork, and prehistoric Hopi, Anasazi and Mimbres pottery. Our jewelry is skillfully handcrafted by Native American silversmiths and marketed to fine gift stores, museum shops and art galleries around the world.
In addition to The Silver Mesa's collections, our Native American Marketplace provides an ever changing selection of jewelry and accessories by various southwestern Tribal artists and craftsmen. Unlike the pieces we produce in our shop, which are generally available in stock, this collection is a native marketplace in the truest sense. The items pictured are on a "first come-first served" basis and we make regular buying trips to restock.
About Our Company
When founded in 1990, The Silver Mesa was a company backed by 20 years of experience.
Owner, Fritz (Douglas) Baker, began as an apprentice silversmith in the early 1970's in Phoenix, Arizona, at Silver by Lannings, one of the oldest established handmade Indian jewelry shops in the southwest. Perfecting his skills alongside Hopi, Navajo, Santo Domingo and Mexican silversmiths, he soon became shop foreman. This led to ten years as master silversmith, designer and manager at Circle J.W. Products, another large jewelry shop in Phoenix, followed by five years as manager and co-owner of Tucker Trading Company in Prescott, Arizona.
Our craftsmen have years of experience, as well. Head silversmith, Daniel Tapija, Jr. (Yavapai/Hopi/Apache/Hualapai) began apprenticeship under Fritz in 1984. Today, Dan takes modest pride in his beautiful, precision hand stamping and soldering, which have earned him the title of "master silversmith".
Gwyn Liles (1/4 Apache) has been contributing her skills since the late 1980's. Gwyn designs and strings necklaces and bead bracelets, sets stones and creates the fine polish you see on our silverwork. No doubt she inherited her love for silver and turquoise from her Apache father, who is himself an accomplished silversmith.
Fritz's wife, Sandra, who worked as a silversmith and inlayer at Al-Zuni's and Circle J.W. Products in Phoenix for several years in the 1970's is in charge of accounting and promotion.
It is this wealth of experience that enables us to provide the high quality jewelry and prompt professional service our customers enjoy.
About Our Product
Tradition & Technology
Craftsmen at The Silver Mesa use the finest materials, combining traditional silversmithing methods and advanced technology to bring you the beauty of handcrafted jewelry at an affordable price.
Artisans begin with a flat sheet of silver and cut the component parts for each piece of jewelry, the way a seamstress cuts the pieces for a shirt from a flat piece of material. The parts are individually shaped and decorated, and then carefully soldered together. And we do mean "carefully", because the skill required here is to bring the metal up to just the right temperature for the solder to flow without overheating or melting the piece (as opposed to casting, which involves melting the silver and pouring it into molds).
Our small design stamps, embossment dies and most of our repousse stamps are original and hand carved in our shop. Repousse and small design stamps are applied in the traditional way - on the blacksmith anvil, one at a time, with a hammer guided by an experienced eye and steady hand. Mimbres stamps and large embossments are applied individually with a hand-operated power tool that provides the controlled force required to make a clean even impression of proper depth in the silver.
While much of our jewelry is hand polished on a buffing wheel, we shine our Mimbres, Rock Art and Northwest lines by using an advanced multi-step tumble polish process to better enhance the intricate designs.
Leatherwork and Findings
Our hatband and belt straps are cut from the finest hides right here in our shop. We leave the straps unpunched, so each customer can be given a custom fit.
On our concho belts, we attach the buckle with a snap, rather than rivets, so it can be easily removed and worn separately on a plain belt.
"Findings" include the tips on a bola cord and the French wires on earrings. They are items that finish off a piece of jewelry. Many of our findings, such as the ranger buckle and tip sets on our hatbands, are handmade in our shop. Others, like bola tips and French wires, are purchased.
Most of our findings are sterling silver, however, we do choose nickel silver for items such as keyring holders and bola backs, where its strength makes it preferable to silver. This selective use of non-silver findings enables us to provide a more durable product
The Silver Mesa is an environmentally aware shop. There are processes and supplies we could use to cut costs and speed production, but the benefit to our pocketbook is not worth the potential harm to the environment.
We do no plating, stripping or etching, which generally involve using cyanides and strong acids. We purchase only cadmium-free silver solders, and neutral silver solder paste flux containing no free fluorides.
Soldering is done on non-asbestos "Brazing Boards", a product Fritz introduced in 1978 when virtually all silver and goldsmiths soldered on asbestos pads. This Board, now marketed through major suppliers, made it possible for smiths to eliminate a primary occupational hazard.
For the tumble polish process, we specifically sought out media and compounds that are not associated with any serious health risks and are free from hazardous materials.
From the supplies that come in our door to the jewelry that goes out, we are doing our part to make the world a better place.