Navajo Sandcast Squash Blossom Necklace

Hi Paula,

This is one piece of Native American jewelry my parents purchased from a dealer friend in Tampa back in the early 70s. I’ve been searching for days online and can’t find one just like this. I did find out that the marking on the back N.TSO indicates it was made by Nellie Tso, but can’t find out anything about her.

I think it was made for a woman, but could be unisex. It’s 25″ in length (including the traditional clasp). The naja is 2-1/2″ wide and 2-10/16″ long. The blossoms, which I think may be sunflowers and are the unusual part of the necklace, are 1-1/2″ long and are attached to double bead strands. The weight is about 320g.

If you have seen one like this or know anything about the artist. Thanks for any help. Marta C.

Vintage Sandcast Squash Blossom Necklace

Hi Marta,

That is a unique and heavy sandcast……… squash blossom necklace ! I like it – it has a very pretty and unique design. It is hard for me to tell definitely from the photo but it seems to me that those are meant to be squash blossom flowers – if you have ever had a garden, you know what I mean – they are round and look like that.

Here is an example from our pawn shop of that type of squash blossom flower. But note, the example I am providing below is not sandcast like your necklace is – but the flowers are very similar, aren’t they?

Vintage Navajo Squash Blossom Flower on Necklace

Again, a guess from the photo – perhaps the pieces that project from the flowers are intended to be corn plants with corn leaves on each side. It looks like there is some texturing like kernels of corn. Is that so?

Corn, squash and beans are the traditional mainstays of the southwestern diet, culture and symbolism are are used in many ways in art and ceremony.

Corn, Beans and Squash : Pueblo Diet

Nellie Tso, a Navajo, was a silversmith for the Atkinson Trading Company around 1980. She specialized in sand cast watchbands. The hallmark you describe is one of four ways she has used to sign her work.

I hope this has been helpful. Enjoy your beautiful necklace !


9 thoughts on “Navajo Sandcast Squash Blossom Necklace

  1. Marta wrote:
    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this piece and for clearing up that they are squash blossoms. I’ve spent many hours looking for info on this design with not a lot of luck. Unique is good, but it can be frustrating. I wish I had asked my Dad what he knew about this piece before he died.

  2. Regarding the Marta C’s Corn Blossom necklace. I also have a Corn Blossom necklace that I purchased in 1972 at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon gift shop.

    Mine has a single row of beads and is inscribed with: YTTT
    (Google search didn’t turn anything up.)

    If you look at a tassel of corn the necklace looks exactly like it:

    * <- Tassel
    \|/ <- Leaves
    | <- Stalk

    My flowers appear to be more star-like than Marta C’s

    If you would like a photo please let me know.

  3. What is the visual difference between sandcast and not-sandcast silver? Which is more desirable?
    Thank you

  4. My question is a simple one: Exactly what process did the Indians use in creating sand casting? I know it’s something like hot silver poured into wet sand. I have a gorgeous, large sandcasted bracelet purchased for me by my late husband in the early 70s from a shop in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The stone is a large and beautiful moss agate. The bracelet is signed, however I cannot make out the signature. Thank you so much. ~~~Phyllis

  5. I also have a necklace that is inscribed YTTT>??? I wish I knew more about it. I obtained it out in California back in the ’70s.

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