The bolo tie is a classic western accessory, recognizable for its two decorative ends connected by a thin cord. It was created in the 1930s by Native American tribal silversmiths in Arizona and New Mexico.
Native American bolo ties were meant to be an alternative to the necktie, which was seen as too formal for the more relaxed lifestyle of the western states.
At Palms Trading Company, we offer authentic Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi bolo ties made by local tribal artisans. We want you to know the history behind these simple yet unique jewelry pieces and the versatility of designs that can be seen today.
When you’re ready to buy one of these beautiful pieces for yourself, check out our Albuquerque store or shop online to find the Native American bolo tie that fits your personal style!
History of Bolo Ties
Bolo ties originated in the 1930s, when Native American men from Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo tribes typically tied bandanas around their necks with string or shell-like structures. Their original version of this accessory was forged into what we now know as bolo ties.
The first Native American bolo ties were crafted from sterling silver and copper and featured sacred tribal symbols and markings. These handmade pieces were popular among ranchers and cowboys throughout the 1940s. As other Americans learned about this style, they began to copy it, eventually leading to its international popularity.
Victor Cedarstaff of Wickenburg, Arizona, is credited as the inventor and father of the iconic bolo tie. He officially filed a patent for his “Slide For a Necktie” back in May 1954, which was granted in July 1959. Despite his self-promotion and proclamation as the inventor, historians know that the bolo tie did not originate from Cedarstaff.
It’s worth noting that Cedarstaff was not the only one claiming to have been the inventor. Many others throughout history have also claimed to be the creator of the first bolo tie.
Bolo Ties: The Craze Sweeping Across the US
Since its inception, the bolo tie has always continued to be a trendsetter. It started making ripples in the late 60s and 70s, yet it goes by many names, such as bola tie, gaucho tie, cowboy tie, and bootlace tie. No matter what you call it, this classic accessory is beloved worldwide.
This iconic necktie was officially deemed a business staple in 1971, but its popularity skyrocketed during the 1980s’ rockabilly revival.
As we stepped into the 1990s, bolo ties saw immense popularity in East Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China. These fashionable accessories were often created with exotic woods and jade featuring cultural symbols and dragons.
Bolo ties during this era particularly stood out due to their expensive yet exquisite designs.
Modern Bolo Ties
In the 2000s, modern bolo ties were often embroidered with intricate beading and tribal symbolism. Today, you can find a variety of bolo ties in many shapes, sizes, and colors to match your personal style.
Whether it’s a traditional Native American bolo tie, a steampunk accessory, or a sleek-contemporary look that you desire – there’s a bolo tie to match your style.
The bolo tie is more than just an accessory. It carries with it the timelessness of the American spirit and culture. Steeped in Native American ancestry, this enduring piece of history transcends the boundaries of age, gender, and culture.
Bolo Tie Design Options
Despite their simplistic design, Native American bolo ties come with different features that make them customizable to accent your style.
Most bolo ties come in 2 lengths: standard and extra-long. The standard length is 38-40 inches long from tip to tip. Extra-long bolo ties are typically 40-42 inches long.
Traditionally, bolo tie cords consist of brown and black leather. Now, bolo cords come in an array of colors and materials. It’s easy to find one matching any outfit you have.
Slide and Tip Designs
Most Native American bolo ties feature a sterling silver slide and cord tips. Modern artists are now designing their bolo ties to feature gold slides and tips.
Vintage Navajo bolo ties often feature turquoise as the primary gemstone, but you’ll also find Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi designs featuring other semi-precious stones paired with turquoise.
Due to its global popularity, it’s easy to find slides and tips made from materials such as wood, resins, and various stones. You can also find slides with a simple slide function or a gripping clasp feature.
Bolo Tie Necklaces
As an embracement of the historic bolo tie design, modern jewelry designers have created what is now known as the bolo tie necklace. Worn mostly by women, these necklaces feature the classic bolo tie design and function but are made to look like an elegant necklace.
These pieces often feature sophisticated pendants in the slide’s design with sterling silver or gold cords.
Looking to buy classic Native American bolo ties?
At Palms Trading Company, we currently feature bolo ties made by Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi artisans. Our bolo ties feature slides adorned with turquoise and other semi-precious stones set in sterling silver.
Our Native American bolo ties come directly from tribal artisans and are authenticated by our knowledgeable buyers and sellers. We also offer a wide selection of tribal jewelry, fetishes, pottery, and kachina dolls.
Buying a gift for someone but can’t figure out what they’ll like? Ask one of our personal shoppers to help you find that perfect gift for that special someone.
Come by our Albuquerque store or shop online today to find the Native American bolo tie that fits your style!