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Archive for the ‘Jewelry’ Category


Beginning in the early 1950s, rhinestone were sometimes coated with an iridescent coating. “Stones” with this treatment are called aurora borealis stones. These AB stones were used widely in costume jewelry by designers such as: Sarah Coventry, Coro and others.  For a more detailed history of these beautiful rhinestones, please click here.

Below are some great examples of vintage Aurora Borealis jewelry from several sellers on Etsy.com

Vintage Red Aurora Borealis Rhinestone Choker, Earrings, Set – GrandVintageFinery, Etsy

Vintage Aurora Borealis Rhinestone Circle Pin Goldtone – VintagePaige, Etsy

Vintage Red and Rhinestone Drop Earrings – Monkeys On Holiday, Etsy

Vintage Darkly Aurora Borealis three strand necklace – Maggies Treasure, Etsy

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The Zuñi People of North American live in Zuni (Pueblo), New Mexico, about 35 miles south of Gallup. They have lived in that area for over 1000 years. The Zuñis, like the Navajo, originally used Mexican and American silver dollars for their source of silver which they used in making jewelry, concho belts and other various ornamentations.

What is unique about Zuñi jewelry designers is that when designing, let’s say a necklace (see the Ronnie Calavraza set below) they will carefully begin their design work at the boundaries of their design. Once that is done the designer will begin to work toward the center of the design. If you look closely you will notice that Zuñi jewelry reflects their preference of silver work over multiple turquoise settings.

In the Zuñi culture birds are believed to be the messengers between the earth and the sacred sky beings. Below are two lovely example of “centering,” showing the Zuñi preference for working a design from the outside in. Notice how the eye is drawn from the outer edges of each piece inward to the inlaid design.

Zuni Ronnie Calavraza Four Piece Sterling Inlay Set - JBPacrat, Etsy.com

Zuni Thunderbird Bolo - PurpleSageTreasures on Etsy.com

The symbol of the butterfly represents summer and its bounty of flowers, plants, centering and balance. Below you see a simple and elegant Zuñi butterfly pendant. Notice that once again the design is worked from the outside inward. In this case, the eye is drawn toward the white triangle at the base of the butterfly.

Old Zuni Butterfly Necklace, Sterling Silver - OldWestGems, Etsy.com

Zuñi concho belts were often inlaid with shells, red coral or turquoise. This spectacular Zuñi concho belt shows the Zuñi specialty of set stones (red coral) using needlepoint technique.

Zuni Concho Red Coral Belt - oldandwise shop, Etsy.com

Link on Zuni Concho Belt - oldandwise, Etsy.com

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Signed Navajo Squash Blossom Necklace Earrings by findtreasures on Etsy.com

You have seen spectacular Native American jewelry. Squash blossom necklaces threaded with rolled silver beads. Delicate silver squash blossom designed in a variety of sizes, adorned with splashes of color deep blue or green turquoise, fire red coral, shells of abalone or oyster which remind the viewer of the earth and sky.

Vintage Squash blossom Necklace, Red Coral and Sterling Silver by keyoinnewolf studio, Etsy.com

Sound magical, doesn’t it. Have you ever wondered about the history of the squash blossom and horseshoe shape that is used so much in Navajo jewelry? Well, I did and here is a bit of info I discovered.

Way back when and long before I was born ((remember, I am vintage, not antique)), any Navajo… (Actually, Navajo’s refer to members of their tribe as Diné, or The People. However, the tribe uses the word Navajo as the official spelling. — Sorry, compulsive moment.)

ANYWAY…. at that time any Navajo who could afford a silver headstall on his horse had one. (insert picture of what a headstall is). Back then, headstalls and all other silver items were made out of US dollars and coins. However, it seemed that the government was not too thrilled in having their silver coins melted and turned into jewelry. So what the US Government did was sent out an order telling the Navajo to stop doing that or else.

From that time on the Navajo obtained silver from Mexico which was a much softer silver than US coins and easier to work with. The horseshoe pendant or raja as it is called by the Navajo, were initially used as horse bridle amulets and later on as necklace pendants.

We should be forever thankful and appreciate the Navajo’s skill and craftsmanship which go into each and every handmade squash blossom necklace. Their history and culture are part of this land and a part of their jewelry as well.

Navajo Sterling Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace. Kingman,1950 - Mercy Madge! on Etsy

Squash blossom necklace in green from Keyonniewolfstudio on Etsy.com

 

Sterling Turquoise Abalone Squash Blossom Necklace by No Minimalist Here Shop on Etsy.com

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