Where Does Your Statement Bib Come From???

For the past few seasons in the accessories world, we have been seeing an onslaught of large crescent-shaped metal necklaces often branded as “tribal statement bibs”. Fashionista’s are wearing these pieces, often adorned with “Navajo” designs and made by non-native jewelry designers. It is interesting to see that fashion is taking it’s cue from Chickasaw men! In fact, this coveted accessory is not so new to the Chickasaw and other southeastern Native American tribes. It is commonly believed that since around the 1530s Southeastern tribes adopted this breastplate-like design from the Spaniards who came to pillage the southeast until our Chickasaw warriors sent them packing. However, I have been told by one tribal elder that he thinks this particular jewelry design pre-dated European influences. Today Chickasaw male stomp-dancers wear this style of necklace as a part of their traditional regalia. Tribal leaders also wear a version with three suspended crescents to signify their leadership status. When I began metalworking, I was immediately drawn to the bold statement-making power of this design. I have forged these gorgets out of steel, copper, silver, and have even crafted them out of plexiglass. This style of necklace is the perfect canvas for my imagery of southeastern symbols and visual stories. I started making and wearing this design about seven years ago. I was considered unusual because I think that I was the first female to make and wear this style of necklace (women wear large intricately beaded collars as their jewelry of choice). Today I see the crescent gorget all over etsy and in the current collections of popular designers. Unfortunately, us southeastern Native jewelers who have perfected the crescent gorget are not receiving nearly enough attention and sales from the fashion market. Many have been creating this distinctive style for decades and will continue long after it has had it’s fashion moment. If you are in the market for one, check out my copper sun gorget in the Sky collection http://www.kristendorseydesigns.com/sun-gorget or check out the work of other talented southeastern jewelers such as Kenneth Johnson http://www.kennethjohnson.com/, Dan Townsend http://www.shellcarver.com/, and fellow Chickasaw Dustin Mater http://www.dustign.com/. Happy Statement Bib making!