I bought this enormous butterfly necklace through a friend of mine in Arizona over twenty five years ago. I paid three hundred dollars for it at the time. I can not find any Hallmarks nor can I find anything comparable on the internet. I was told it was a ceremonial type necklace for the Butterfly Clan. I think the workmanship is a poor quality and may be old pawn jewelry. Can you help me identify and value this piece?
I think I bought this necklace from an indian artist I used to know many years ago. He often introduced me to other artists and I usually would purchase some wonderful art work. This butterfly necklace was something dear to my heart and I enjoyed it for many years but in the last fifteen years or so it just sat in a box. I would like to know more about it if that’s possible. I couldn’t find any marks or signatures. I tried to keep it clean many years ago but haven’t done much in over ten years. It has gotten quite dark. Is it better that I not try to clean it? How do you recommend I store it so it won’t get any blacker?
I hope these pics are okay. I have some more if you like.
You have a unique piece with beautiful stones. You have a number of questions:
Legend, use, significance
I’ll start with the quick ones to answer.
Value. We don’t appraise from photos. If interested in selling, here is article on that
Materials. It would seem that it would be made from nickel silver or coin silver. You can read all about silver here.
It seems to be hinged, has a hand made chain and lovely set turquoise stones in smooth bezels and I would agree that it looks like it is from 1960-70.
Turquoise – Identifying turquoise from photos is difficult at best. First there is the type of lighting where the photo is taken, the setting on the camera, the camera itself. Then there are the computer monitor settings that vary widely. Morenci turquoise is a blue turquoise with iron pyrite (fool’s gold) in it. Here are a couple of examples of Morenci turquoise:
The Morenci mine is a copper mine that is still fully operational but the turquoise portion had been closed (and buried under rock) for a number of years.
Care – It looks great for a vintage piece. I’d keep on doing what you are doing as far as storage. If it is tarnishing, you could wrap it in anti-tarnish cloth which you can purchase by the yard on the internet or at a sewing store.
Tribal affiliation. You mention Butterfly Clan but I doubt this is Hopi. I’m not familiar with Tau. I would guess Navajo made. Here are some examples of typical butterfly motifs and their tribal affiliations.
As far as significance or ceremonial use, that is always best obtained from the person who made it or it was purchased from. Each Native American tribe ascribes their own legends and stories to the butterfly. Butterfly attributes can range everywhere from beauty and transformation to vanity to untrustworthy trickster.
Here is an example of the butterfly hairdo on an unmarried Hopi woman.