Here we have a gorgeous old silver bead necklace, in a modernist style that was extremely popular in the 1940s to 1960s. This style came from Spaniards in the New World (what now includes Old and New Mexico), which they shared with Navajos, who call their pieces "Navajo Pearls." At the height of popularity, even large department stores got into the fashion trend and started producing these kinds of bead necklaces. I've had several vintage bead chains like this, but this is one of the oldest and most beautiful, with smaller and much heavier beads than what I've found. The slightly squashed style is actually called a "seed bead" as it is shorter than it is wide and has a more defined seam. The necklace comes directly from an old pawn shop in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, and since it is not signed we cannot say with certainty that it is Native American; however, given the weight of the beads, and the quality of craftsmanship, we do believe they are Navajo.
The necklace measures about 18" in length and has a single larger bead in the center, and three round (versus the compressed style) on each end. The majority of beads measure 1/4" across and the largest in the center is 7/16". The beads are threaded onto a silver cord. There are places where there is dark tarnish, especially where the beads touch one another. This is exactly the type of patina that you aim for with these beads, in this case naturally created, and so I will not polish the necklace and encourage the new owner to also leave that patina.
A vanishing piece of history.
Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.
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