Arvella Cheama

Perhaps the biggest change in Zuni fetish carving in the last few years is the development of the highly realistic style. The carvers of this style, mostly young men in their late teens and early twenties, were encouraged by Don Sharp, an administrator with the federal Young American Conservation Corps.

Although the approach was new, they learned in the traditional way through their family connections, but Sharp encouraged their work and found new markets for them. The leaders of this new style and the first to use it are the Cheama brothers: Daniel Quam, Lance, Fabian, and Wilfred. Daniel is the eldest and is much respected by his brothers as the best carver in the family. He started carving in 1982 and before that made jewelry. He believes he was the first to do realistic carvings.  Lance learned in 1986 from his older brother Daniel. His favorite animals are lizards, snakes, badgers, and weasels, all of which have become the trademarks of the Cheama family He sold a bear to a hunter and a frog to a rain dancer to use as a weight on his headdress. The family's preferred materials are ivory and serpentine.  Joe Harris of Silver City, comes to Zuni with good serpentine (without fractures), a material that suits the animals the Cheamas carve best.

Sometimes they carve in lapis, amber, and turquoise. The brothers keep animal books and use them for details of species that do not live in the area and to ensure that their carvings have both delicacy and life.  It takes Lance about an hour and a half to make a piece, and his wife, Karen Zuni, does the sanding. He uses a Fordham tool with different tips for details. He is beginning to win prizes for his work: the Museum of Northern Arizona awarded him three honorable mentions and a second prize since he began carving.

Lance was a firefighter in 1988, but in 1989 he broke his leg and while recuperating had more time to devote to carving. Although he was offered a job carving in the workshop of a dealer in Gallup, he prefers to work at home. He would like to do African animals-his brother Wilfred makes lions and once made a giraffe, Lance loves to carve lizards and has a poster of the lizards of North America over his workbench, The brothers' styles are so close as to be almost indistinguishable, and all the Cheamas feel that patience and slow, careful work make a good carving.

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Although the best way to test the size and fit of a piece of jewelry is to try it on in the store, we know that is not always an option. In an effort to help you choose the piece that is right for you, we have included measurements of each piece on the website. Here is how our measurements are defined:


Finding the right size bracelet for your wrist has always been a tricky endeavor, since, unlike rings, there isn't a standardized, universal sizing chart for wrist size. One reason for this is that we all have different shaped wrists, some of us have round wrists, while others have more oval. Bracelets, like wrists, also have different shapes.

So, while bracelet sizing will never be an exact science, we've done what we can to ensure the greatest chance of a comfortable fit. The best thing you can do if you don't know your wrist size is to take a soft measuring tape and loosely measure the circumference of your wrist at the point you plan on wearing it. Try not to have the measuring tape dig into your skin, as this will result in a smaller than ideal size. Once you have the circumference of your wrist, compare it to the chart below to find the correct bracelet size. If your wrist measures in-between two sizes, we recommend rounding up to the larger size. (ie: if your wrist measures 6.375"- you should shop for size "Medium" bracelets.)

 Wrist Circumference

Corresponding Bracelet Size











6.75" - 7"











You may want to drill down further on the bracelet sizing to make sure the cuff is a comfortable fit. You will notice on our website that we generally list four measurements for bracelets:

Keep in mind that certain bracelets can be adjusted slightly to fit your wrist, but those with inlay or stones all the way around will be damaged if bent. In any case, it is always best to check with with us to see if a particular bracelet is adjustable.

Lastly, have no fear! If you order a bracelet that doesn't fit, send it back for one that does! We want this to be a positive experience, you should never wear something that isn't 100% comfortable. More on our return policy here.


Sizing belt buckles is pretty straightforward. The height and width are self-explanatory, and the belt width describes the maximum belt width the buckle will fit on.

Concha Belts

We try to include the height and width for the conchas, as well as the buckle (if different), and the width of the belt they are on. The length of the concha belts can be less important, because these belts are often made quite long to accommodate many waist sizes, and then can be shortened to fit the wearer. If you are concerned whether or not a belt will fit you, just ask. We are happy to size most of our concha belts before shipping.