Conchos, which literally means "seashells" in Spanish, are usually round or oval discs of silver used to decorate Western horse saddles and bridles, clothing, belts, and jewelry such as pendants and bolo ties. Conchos usually have a unique symbol etched into the silver. Although concho belts are known to be Navajo in origin, Navajos allegedly borrowed the idea for conchos from Mexican pioneers or Plains Indians. The earliest known conchos were made from silver dollars that were hammered, stamped, slotted, and strung together on a thick leather string. As concho belts evolved, copper loops were attached to the back of conchos so they could easily latch onto leather belts. Although concho accessories were first worn by men, they are now unisex, and are also worn around women's dresses.
Making Small Conchos
Take a round template and trace two circles opposite one another.
Trace the circles on the silver flat sheet opposite one another with a nail or a cabbing metal marker.
File the circles to match up perfectly.
Take a jeweler saw and saw out the pattern.
File the conchos until they are both perfectly round and the same size.
Take the fine metal file and carve out the marks previously made with the nail or metal cabbing stick. Match up the marks.
Make two precise holes, or notches, in the concho to string it on a chain or belt when finished.
Take the metal doping block and use the steel bearings to tap the silver into a perfect half circle.
Take a ball pin hammer and tap the two circles together.
Solder the circles together.
Pickle it (a process to remove the excess metal waste) and polish it with silver polish.
Use the small file to make desired patterns and designer holes.
These instructions are primarily for making smaller concho jewelry. To make a large concho for a belt, use a larger and thicker silver flat sheet.
Soldering is done at very hot temperatures. Take necessary precautions and keep away from children.