The Difference between Handmade & Manufactured


Circa 1940s bracelets. One is handmade and the other is manufactured. Once the railroad brought the tourists they wanted to take home a piece of the area and that usually meant Indian style crafts. Stops at places like the Harvey House required large inventories, and that developed an assembly line style of making jewelry to meet a demand.

Neither of these cuffs has a sterling mark or artist hallmark stamp. So the first thing we will look at is the style of stamp work. One is filled with popular Native American designs like arrows, thunderbirds, zias, and arrowhead designs. The other bracelet has very traditional stamp work without the symbol designs.

Another thing about the stamp work that is going to help us decide which is assembly line manufactured and handmade is the placement of the stamps. It is difficult to tell from the pictures, but if you study them you will see it. On the top blue stone bracelet, you will notice that on each side of the cuff the stamp work is spaced differently. The easiest place to see this is at the end where the circle stamp sits farther down in the v-shaped stamp. On the bracelet with the Native American stamp symbols, the work is identical on each side. A press would stamp the length of the bracelet all at once.

In the picture of the two pieces you will see the thickness of the silver on each cuff. The traditional stamped piece fluctuates in thickness, the other bracelet is consistent. A silversmith during this time period would have hammered the bracelet shank from an ingot, while the assembly line piece would be pressed from a fabricated plate. Manufacturing shops would produce large quantities and silver suppliers would be very happy to accommodate the types of silver needed, not so for single piece productions.

Two last clues, notice the traditional stamped piece shows the two ends of the cuff. On the bottom photo below the stamp design you will notice some stress in the silver. This is a common feature of hammered coin silver, which is another indication that this bracelet would be the handmade piece. The symbol stamped piece has the stone set in a bezel cup, which would indicate that this sized stone would be used over and over.


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Very useful information, as I am now checking out the Darrel Cadman cuff on my wrist, which from this information, I would say is handmade.