Paula – What is my Squash Blossom Necklace Worth?

Every week I receive over a dozen queries such as this:

Hi Paula,
I have a necklace that belongs to my sister. Her husband died, and she is trying to liquidate some of her assets. Where can I find out how much it is worth, and where can I sell it for her? We have been to the local jewelers, and he said it was silver. It has several turquoise stones. I think it is called a squash necklace. Thank you for your help, June

Usually I reply suggesting the person read this article which provides much valuable information about selling used Native American jewelry to us.

Do we Buy Native American Jewelry?

It outlines the process we use and it also lists the various factors that affect price.

  • Authenticity

  • Documentation

  • Hallmarks

  • The artist’s reputation

  • The scarcity of the artist’s work

  • The age of the piece

  • The quality of workmanship

  • The condition (see specifics below)

  • The weight of sterling silver and gold used

  • The quality and size of the stones used

  • The overall aesthetics of the piece.

In addition, the scale of the piece will also affect price. Many people today shop for items of wearable art so look for pieces that aren’t too large, long or heavy. Many squash blossom necklaces are beautiful but are too much necklace for many people to wear. The same goes for some of the masterpiece bracelets – beautiful to look at but impractical to wear.

Size also is a big factor – we have a good idea of what sizes of bracelets and rings sell the best for us and also the length of necklaces that are most popular. We take all of these things into consideration.

It is not uncommon for someone to write us hoping an item will bring $1500 when in fact its current value is about $300. Really the best way to find value is to send or take the item to a person experienced and knowledgeable about Native American jewelry.  (If you take your items to a pawn shop, if the items are sterling silver, you will likely be offered scrap or melt value. That will be the subject of a future article.)

If you don’t want to ship the items and you don’t have a local expert, one good way to get an idea of what your item would sell for is to use eBay as a reference tool. The eBay marketplace will give you a rough idea of retail value since most of the shoppers there are individuals like you.  There are very specific ways to drill down to an accurate market value of a piece.

First log on to eBay

In the search box type in a description that you think another seller might use to describe your piece.

Let’s use “turquoise squash blossom necklace”.  Type that in and then click on Search. In my example you’ll see that search turned up 497 items. (By the way, if you are having trouble reading these screen shots of eBay, hit CTRL +++ to enlarge the font on your screen.)

In the left hand column, under categories, click on Ethnic, Regional and Tribal

That reduces the group to 324 items.

In the left hand column, click on Native American

That reduces the group to 301 items.

This shows the items currently for sale that are like your item. You can browse through this list to see what sellers are currently ASKING for their pieces but a MUCH BETTER  way to learn what your item is worth, is the following.

Next to the blue SEARCH button in the upper right of the screen is the word Advanced. Click on that.

It will take you to this screen.

Look for the section that is headed

Search including (at the bottom of the above screen shot)

and click on the box in front of

Completed listings

This will take you to a page (in my example) with 912 items that were listed with the words “turquoise squash blossom necklace” and were in the Native American category and that either sold or went unsold within the last  60 days. If you have your eBay window set to show 100 items per page, you will have 9 long pages to scroll through !!  Get that cup of coffee !

As you browse note this. Toward the right hand side of each listing, if the price is in red that means the item didn’t get a single bid and didn’t sell.

If the item price is green and there is a SOLD box near it, that means the item sold for that price.

When you find an item that looks similar to yours, you can click on the item and it will take you to that item’s individual page where you can find out more information such as age, whether sterling, weight, condition, hallmarks and you can usually see a number of better close-up photos to help you compare the item to the one you are trying to evaluate. Cracked stones, missing pieces and other damage really lower an item’s price.

So if you see a similar item to yours and it sold for $100, that give you a ballpark idea of what the market will bear – what your item is worth out there in the real world of buyers.  What the market is willing to pay.

If you see a similar item to your own that has a price of $800 but the item is UNSOLD, all that tells you is that someone asked $800 for it but didn’t get it. Often when you scroll through listings you will see the same item appear several times  – as each auction expires, the item goes unsold and the seller relists it.  You might see the price lowering over time or the seller might invite offers with the Best Offer feature.

The bottom line is, the best way to find out what your items are worth is to find a person knowledgeable and experienced in Native American jewelry. You can also use eBay to help you get a ball park figure on what an item similar to yours has sold for in the recent past.

Best of luck and soon I will write an article about melt value and another with advice on what listing your item on eBay entails.

 Enjoy that beautiful jewelry !! Paula

 

What is this Cracked Turquoise Pendant Worth?

Hi Paula,

I have a turquoise pendant that I was wondering what it might be
worth and who the designer might be.  There is no hallmark that I can
find; as you can see there’s a pretty large crack in the stone.
Jay

Hi Jay,

We don’t do appraisals from photos. We only do appraisals if someone sends items to us that they want to sell.

What I can tell you about this item is this:

Although it was once a pretty pendant, I doubt that it was Native American made as it doesn’t have any characteristics that I am familiar with and has several characteristics that are not Native American.

925 indicates that the metal portion is sterling silver.

I have no idea what the smaller gemstones are – addition of such stones, whether real or imitation, is not characteristic of Native American silversmiths. If you think the item did have value at one time, you might want to take it to a jeweler to have the stones tested.

The crack in the turquoise depreciates the value of the item to about 10% of its undamaged value. And whether that is real turquoise could only be determined on physical inspection.

We occasional get items like this is estate collections. Since the item can not be authenticated and is damaged, what we do is put them in with a group of other sterling silver items in our Bargain Barn as a lot.

I invite other readers to add their comments if they recognize something in the pendant that would be helpful to Jay.

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While metal detecting found a vintage Boy Scout Badge or Native American pin?

Hi Paula,

I have been trying to see what this item is and thought it was a boy scout pin of some kind.  I found it while metal detecting near a spot here in Illinois where a pool had been in the early 1900′s.  It was pretty deep, leading me to think it has been lost for a long time, but you never know.

 It appears to be all silver because it was not tarnished in the least, is about 1.5 inches across the top.  The back is plain except for two loops that appear to be soldered on.  One is open to receive a pin, and the other appears to have held a pin that has corroded away.  My guess is the pin was not stiff and was intended to be inserted and then fed into the loop.  Does not seem like a good design, but that is all I can figure out.  No markings other than the symbols on the front.

I posted on a metal detecting site and asked if anyone knew what it was.  One person suggested it might be actually native american or trade silver.  The other suggested it might be an old scout “order of the arrow” award or honor.

Since you specialize in similar new native american items, I thought I would take a shot to ask if you had any clue.

Thanks

Frank

Hi Frank,

I can see why you might think this might be a vintage Boy Scout badge. It almost looks like something one might wear over the top button of a shirt with a collar. Or on a pocket flap.

To me it is reminiscent of Fred Harvey era Native American items such as were sold at Bell Trading Post.

Fred Harvey was an entrepreneur who created an avenue for Indians to make and sell jewelry to the tourists. Jewelry of the Fred Harvey era has typical Indian kitsch of arrows, tomahawks, tipis, thunderbirds and so on and was most produced from 1930 throughout the 1950s. Read more about Fred Harvey here.

The very symbols on your piece (crossed arrows and rain clouds with rain) were quite common on jewelry from that era.

Have you tested it for sterling silver or silver to verify?  Cool piece.

Maybe another reader will leave a comment here if they have seen something similar.

 

UPDATE JUNE 28, 2011

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS OF THE BACK OF THE PIN TO SHOW SCALE AND TOOL MARKS.

 

 

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Is this reticulated sterling pendant Native American made? MAXCII

Hi Paula, just acquired a cool reticulated Sterling pendant that’s stamped Sterling and Hallmarked ©MAXCll. It appears to be NA…any ideas on maker?

Thank you! Sandy

Hi Sandy,

Very interesting piece ! I’ve never seen anything like it nor have I seen a hallmark like that. I would guess it is not Native American made but perhaps made by a US artisan or one from another country. I showed the photos to everyone here and none thought it was Native American made, but each had a different “guess” as to its origin:

India

Mexico

Indonesia.

I’m posting it in hopes that someone else might be able to provide you with more information.

If we received something like this in an estate lot, we would state origin unknown and put in in the

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Antiques Roadshow says eBay effect has flooded collectibles market

A recent article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine (May 2011)

“What’s Hot at the Antiques Roadshow”

has some interesting information related to vintage Native American jewelry. Here’s a quote:

“Call it the eBay effect. Once-scarce items now flood the online auction sites, tipping the scales of supply and demand and diluting values. Throw in the impact of the economic downturn — during which some folks desperately scoured their attics and basements in search of anything to sell that could help them pay their bills — and the result is a perfect storm: a decline in prices for most collectibles and antiques.”

The value of an item is not only determined by its appraised material value but also its history, or provenance. That is the story behind who obtained the item, how, when and where and any other interesting details associated with the piece. When someone asks me to help them identify and value their piece, I always ask them for the back story.

When we first purchase or obtain something, all the details are fresh in our mind and we think we will always remember the story but pull that same bracelet out 15 years later and the details might be somewhat fuzzy. That’s why it is best to write some key info such as date, price, artist’s name, where obtained and so on on a piece of paper and store it with the item. Or keep a notebook with such info. It will come in handy and could increase the value of your piece.

Read my related post.

The Great American Sell Off of Possessions including Jewelry

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The Great American Sell Off of Possessions including Jewelry

In the current issue of Smart Money magazine, there is an article called The Great American Sell Off which talks about people trying to sell their possessions in record numbers.

This includes jewelry.

Right now, there is no shortage of things to buy. At liquidation and estate sales, buyers are purchasing the small less expensive items. There isn’t a whole lot of cash out there to buy non-essentials.

When liquidators tell people what cash they should expect to get for their items, they say take what you paid for it (or what it has been appraised at for insurance purposes) and remove a zero from the end,

That sounds rough but that’s the reality. Using that thumb rule, if a lot has been appraised at $6000 by an insurance appraiser, then its cash value today is about $600.

Read the article – very interesting !

Do We Buy Jewelry?

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SY Hallmark on Big Navajo Cuff Bracelet

I’m glad I found this site. I just bought a bracelet from a lady, that her father bought in 1980 from a black lady at a flea market in S.C. . It is 151.1 grams a big cuff bracelet,stone Turq. 1″.5  by 1.5inch rain drops 24 2 sq. leaves fine work. Cuff opening 1.5 inch W. 2.25 It is singed S Y  Do you think this would be Steve Yellowhorse work? I was a picker for years, just got in to this Navajo stuff. So i’am green!

JV

We’ve had several posts about the SY hallmark you can read here

http://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/native-american-hallmarks/

http://nativeamericanjewelrytips.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/native-american-hallmarks-internet-search-caution/

Hello again………Thanks I found out that it is by Sampson Yazzie he died in 2005 of age of 82 found a website on hall marks, http://www.art-amerindien.com/ JV

Hi JV,

Yes, I’ve perused that site also. Here is the page on Hallmarks

http://www.art-amerindien.com/signature_bijoux_amerindiens.htm

And when you go to the S page, you’ll see there is an SY hallmark with a question mark by it. We’ve purchased items by Shirley Yazzie with that hallmark. There is also S.Y. hallmark attributed to Sampson Yazzie.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Steve Yellowhorse uses SY but he also stamps a horse image by his initials.

So many beautiful vintage bracelets come into our pawn shop with no hallmarks……yet they are truly beautiful and valuable all the same.

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