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Concho Belts AKA Concha Belts
Before buying a concho belt, it is a good idea to know a little bit about them. We hope this helps you with your purchasing decision.
The word concho comes from the Spanish "concha" which actually means "conch" or "seashell" but has come to mean round or oval disks (occasionally rectangles) of silver used to decorate saddles, bridles, clothing, used as jewelry such as for pendants and bolo ties and for adorning or making belts.
Concho belts are a long-time Navajo tradition yet it has been suggested that the Navajo borrowed conchos from Mexican tack items or from the Plains Indians.
The earliest conchos were silver dollars that were hammered, then stamped and edged, then slotted and strung together on a piece of leather.
Later in the evolution of concho belts, copper loops were added to the back of the conchos so that the conchos could be slipped onto a leather belt.
Concho Belt Features
Concho belts can be a continuous row of conchos or could have spacers in between the conchos. The spacers can of various shapes but traditionally are butterflies and it is easy to see why they are called that when you look at the shape of them.
The conchos and the butterflies are sometimes backed by leather which highlights the silver work and also protects the edges of the silver from bumping, wear or bending.
Men's or Ladies?
Concho belts are unisex and can be worn with jeans as well as dresses.
How Many Conchos?
The number of conchos on a belt will depend on the size of the belt, the width of the conchos, whether butterfly spacers are used and so on. But some common configurations might be:
Conchos can be of shiny or matte silver, antiqued or highly polished. Some concho belts are all sterling silver but many concho belts also have stones inset in the center or around the perimeter of the concho.
Leather or Link
Generally there are two types of concho belts: leather and link. The leather belt portion of leather concho belts are usually extra long and blank (not punched) so that you can custom fit the belt to your size. The conchos can be slid along the leather as desired to position them perfectly for your waist size. You can also remove the conchos and buckle from the leather strip provided and place the conchos on a favorite belt that you already own.
Link concho belts are conchos that are connected by rings with a hook fastener at one end.
Fastening a Concho Belt
Concho belts fasten in one of three ways.
Some leather Concho Belts have a normal buckle with a tongue. You will need to punch a hole or two in the leather portion of the belt to custom fit it to you. If you have a small waist, you might want to cut some of the leather off the end of the belt and possibly slide the conchos closer together. If you have a large waist, you might want to slide the conchos farther apart from each other.
Others leather belt style Concho Belts have a large oval "western style belt buckle" with a prong on the back that fits into a hole in the belt. You will need to punch holes and trim the leather for this type of buckle too.
Link Concho Belts fasten with a hook that can be attached almost anywhere on the belt thereby making link belts very adaptable and one-size-fits-all. Those with smaller waists have a larger portion of the belt hanging down in the front after fastening.
Types of Concho Belts - Materials, Authenticity and More
Today there are many types of Concho Belts sold, some are authentic Sterling Silver, Native American Made, but many are not. Here is how they stack up in our opinion.