1930s to 1950s 72gm turquoise silver squash blossom necklace Southwestern Old Pawn Indian jewelry

$1,350.00

This vintage unmarked Native American squash blossom is perhaps my favorite of the several I've offered, although it is not the heaviest nor the most expensive. First reason is, it's an older piece, likely 1930s to 50s, with a simple design common to that era. Next, it features an uncommon turquoise--one near and dear to my heart--from the Cerrillos, New Mexico mine. A website about Cerrillos turquiose has this to say: "Cerrillos is not only an uncommon and unique form of native New Mexican turquoise, but it has a history entwined with both ancient Native peoples of the Southwest and more recent American mining companies. Cerrillos turquoise was created and mined under unusual circumstances. It is the only turquoise that formed at the base of a volcano. Thus, a variety of colors developed from the minerals in the various volcanic host stones. In fact, the Cerrillos New Mexico Turquoise mines produce seventy-five colors, from tan to khaki-green to rich, blue-green to bright and light colors. Cerrillos is a very hard stone and so takes a brilliant polish. In addition to producing a distinctive stone, the Cerrillos mine is the oldest mine of any kind in North America. Located ten miles south of Santa Fe, it was the site of the largest prehistoric mining activity on the continent because the huge turquoise deposit was partially exposed at the surface. Miners from the San Marcos Pueblo, who later moved to Santo Domingo Pueblo south of Santa Fe, most heavily worked the mine. Using only stone axes, mauls, antler picks, and chisels, Pueblo miners removed 100,000 tons of solid rock to create a pit mine 200 feet deep. They dug other vertical shafts into the ground to reach veins of turquoise. Miners carried tools and leather rock buckets on their backs as they climbed in and out of the shafts using notched logs as ladders. The turquoise obtained from this hard work traded among early peoples from Mexico to the Midwest and from the east to west coasts. In New Mexico, many pieces of Cerrillos turquoise for personal and trade use have been unearthed in the prehistoric ruins of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. The Pueblo peoples continued to extract turquoise from the Cerrillos mine until the 1870's when a silver mining boom raised interest in the area. The Tiffany Company in New York and its associates bought up the mine area and extracted $2,000,000 worth of turquoise between 1892 and 1899."

The necklace features eight silver squash blossoms, and one strand of silver beads. It was originally a relatively short squashblossom--only about 12-3/4" including the naja. Most squashblossoms hang low, more like 14" long, and at some point, likely at least a few decades ago, the owner added a 2-1/4" extender to the back, bringing it to the more standard 14" length. The naja measures 2-1/8" across and 2-1/4" tall. This piece has a deep patina and tarnish, which I will not take off for two reasons. First, tarnish and patina show age, and age is value. Second, on a simple piece like this, the dark color against areas of highlight, all in contrast to that amazing color of turquoise, combine for stunning effect.

A smaller piece that recalls a simpler life, before this type of jewelry hit the mainstream craze of the 70s and 80s (and became huge and chunky), with an amazing New Mexico provenance.


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