Navajo Sterling Silver Sunface Belt Buckle
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What is Overlay?
Overlay pieces are made of two sterling silver layers. The bottom layer is a piece of solid sterling silver. The top sterling silver layer has a cutout design. The cutout is placed over the bottom layer and the two pieces are "sweated" together, that is heated so that they become one. The bottom layer (background to the cutout) is usually accented. The Navajo silversmiths oxidize the bottom layer which darkens it. Hopi silversmiths oxidize and etch the background (texturize it) with hash marks.