This custom squash blossom necklace was made in the 1980s by Navajo silversmith Edmund Piaso with coins selected for their rarity and value. The owner of the necklace is in his late 70s now and had been a museum curator, appraiser, and antique dealer during his long career, and he owned the premiere collection of Native American jewelry in the Southwest, most donated to the Albuquerque Museum and now becoming part of a permanent collection. When he had the coins he wanted, he went to Piaso, a talented silversmith then working in Old Town Albuquerque, to put together the squash blossom necklace. There are several elements that are noteworthy, but let's start with the pièce de résistance: the 1879 Morgan Dollar that sits center bottom as the focal coin. This is an authentic coin, and it has a lot of wear in the features of Lady Liberty. The eagle on the back side of the coin is what faces front on the squash blossom, and that is because the eagle is sacred to Native Americans. Any coin jewelry made for Native Americans will have the eagle front facing; coin jewelry made for non-Natives usually has the side of the coin showing the year front-facing. The Morgan dollar--minted from 1878-1904 and named after designer George T. Morgan--was the first standard silver dollar minted since the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873. This particular coin was minted in Philadelphia. All 16 quarter dollars are also authentic and pure silver, and based on my best reading of the dates--this is hard as each one has tarnish and some grime--date from 1892 to 1916.
The next stand-out element of the necklace is the old earring used as a top pediment for the coin. The earring itself is from the 1930s, but the artist of that earring (not Piaso, as the piece was collected for this custom necklace) used an old turquoise stone that had at one time been part of a necklace, as we can still see the pump drilled hole in the stone. It is common for Navajos to reuse stones from other pieces of jewelry. Perhaps the original tab necklace had broken, or the original owner had died, and then the pieces of jewelry are reused in other jewelry, such as the earring. And now, the earring is used in yet another piece of jewelry, the necklace. In this way jewelry represents not just beauty, but the unending cycle of life and death, and life again. I am often struck when collecting and selling antiques and vintage treasures that these treasures long outlast any one of us. And the energy of the owners and especially the makers lives on.
The last aspect of the necklace worth calling out is the construction of the silver beads. This was Piaso's own design. In traditional Navajo Pearls, the artist cuts out two spheres then solders them together, smoothing out the horizontal seam. In Piaso's beads, one sphere is set just inside the other sphere, creating a raised line, so that the beads have not just a seam but a stripe going through each horizontal center. They are big and wholly unique. Likewise, the hook and eye are also big and sturdy, able to hold the substantial weight of silver in this piece.
The necklace measures about 33-1/2 " tip to tip and weighs a whopping 203g. The necklace has been well cared for and is in excellent condition. There is some verdigris at the smaller coins, where the soldering material--not sterling silver--has tarnished. And there is a great deal of oxidation in the beads, some of it by design and some from age.
An heirloom piece that will never be replicated nor found again!
Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.
For More Native Necklaces, Pendants, and Pins: http://bit.ly/2ESs4Tf
Native American Earrings: http://bit.ly/2FyZ8wy
Native American Rings: http://bit.ly/2HQXwyY
Native Bracelets and Watches: https://bit.ly/2NpeypL
Native Belts and Bolos: http://bit.ly/2oz2XKp
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