Your favorite Native American turquoise jewelry has been produced for thousands of years. One of the oldest mines in the United States is the Cerrillos mine of New Mexico, which has been mined by Native Americans for over 2000 years.
Early native jewelry was not made with silver, which didn’t come until the 1850’s. It was primarily stone beads and inlaid pieces on wood, bone or shells. Earlier techniques used tools made of sandstone, clay, wet sand and leather to shape and polish the finished product.
It is said silver-smithing entered the art form in the 1850’s when a Navajo artist was encouraged by a local trading post to create a more marketable product for the tourist and visitors of the area. It quickly spread amongst the tribes and a new art form emerged.
In the beginning, the pieces made for tourist were very different than what was made for personal use, crude images of bows and arrows or thunder birds, more akin to what the tourist would imagine the native jewelry to look like. This was in fact very different than the art they were creating for inter-tribal use. Personal jewelry was heavier and used forms from their tribes history and art forms making it easy to distinguish the jewelry between the different tribes.
As the art form progressed it was easy to see the Spanish influence from tooling marks and patterns to sand cast shapes found in Spanish armor and Spanish riding gear. Today turquoise jewelry continues to be a medium of expression in the native arts world, ever changing with new forms and shapes, malleable like the material it is made from, making it one of the most sought after jewelry styles around.
As for grading, the stone itself a gemologist will grade it from three perspectives. One, on a Mohs scale of 5-6 for hardness, 1 being talc and 10 being a diamond. Two, on its color, the more blue and free of matrix the better and three, its luster or depth of color. Native artists look for more than that. Matrix, the mother stone that surrounds turquoise, can create some interesting shapes and effects giving it a more desirable appeal. Higher concentrations of iron can make the turquoise greener, making the color more unique, including a blue to green effect inside one stone. Finally its rarity as defined by how much is or was available in that particular configuration of color, matrix and depth of color.
As you can see with hardness being equal it’s really a person preference. Because of these reasons we like to pick our jewelry by hand from the artist, ensuring quality and authenticity of the pieces we sell. Take a peek and be amazed by today’s Native American turquoise jewelry. Be assured only authentic Native American jewelry is sold here. Mi Gwitch!
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You can shop from the best turquoise jewelry selection in town at Northland Visions today! Visit us at 1113 Franklin Ave in Minneapolis or call 612-807-1755 for questions.