Restringing a Squash Blossom Necklace

When this arrived in a recent estate lot, I went eeek ! and then promptly contacted our favorite repair shop. Although we can make minor repairs and alterations here at our store, we leave something like this to a professional that has experience with Native American jewelry.

A jumble of beads and a broken wire – I wonder if everything is here to make a necklace again??!!

The 14 mm handmade beads are stamped on both side and so are the blossoms – quite rare !

As usual Old Town did their magic – straightening any bent blossom petals, balancing all the beads beautifully, making a new hook and eye closure….resulting in a treasure of a necklace.

The repair shop we use…….
Contact Diane Radeke at
Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West
4009 N. Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
602-350-4009
info@oldtownjewels.com

See this related article

Shortening a Squash Blossom Necklace for Paula

Paula

New Life for a Cracked Turquoise Stone Bracelet

The estate lots we purchase commonly contain at least a couple of damaged vintage pieces. We have the choice of selling them AS-IS, with extensive tarnish or soil, silver damage, a missing stone, a loose stone, a cracked stone……OR we can have the item repaired so the piece can be used again ! When I see a beautifully crafted necklace, ring or bracelet that would otherwise be tossed in a box to be forgotten, I do whatever I can to help revive the piece.

This beautiful bracelet hallmarked LESTER ORTIZ  and STERLING

weighs 89 grams and is 2 3/8″ tall at the front.

The gorgeous green turquoise stone (I’ll let you ponder the mine – please put your guesses in the comments below) was too good to toss.

I sent this bracelet to Diane at Old Town (see contact information below) who coordinates the work for the Navajo silversmiths there. Henry waved his magic wand over this one and turned it from trash to treasure !  Thank you Henry !!!!

BEFORE

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DAMAGED LESTER ORTIZ BRACELET

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AFTER

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REPAIRED AND REVIVED BRACELET

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The repair service we use:

Diane Radeke
Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West / Old Town Jewels
4009 N. Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
602-350-4009
info@oldtownjewels.com

Paula

Native American Jewelry Repair – Vintage Inlay Belt Buckle

This is the first in a series of repair articles that I am writing in conjunction with Diane from Old Town Trading Co. in Scottsdale, AZ.  See contact information at the end of this article. We appreciate OTTC’s help and expertise in this series.

Read the introductory article “Repair and Restoration of Native American Jewelry”

 

Question:

Is it possible to repair or restore Native American jewelry?

 

Answer:

Yes, we have Native American Silversmiths working for us here on premises, who are accomplished artisans and expert repair people.  We service repairs for customers and jewelers all over the United States.

Question:

How can we find out what you can do and how much it will cost?

Answer:

You can photograph or scan your jewelry and email the picture to us.  We can usually give you an idea of the repair needed and a ballpark estimate from your photo.  If you decide to proceed, you then mail your jewelry to us.  Once we receive the item and have a chance to thoroughly inspect it we call you with a firm price for the repairs.

Question:

Can you outline the procedure for this inlay buckle repair?

Inlay buckle showing missing pieces.


Answer:

From the customer’s picture, we saw that 7 pieces of coral and shell were missing.  An estimate for this repair was $85.00 plus $15 to return ship and insure.  However, once we received the buckle, we found that the back of the buckle had serious cracks forming in the silver at two edges.  It looked like the buckle had flexed back at that point, causing the tearing to begin.  All of the missing stones were right on top of the bend – that’s no doubt why they popped out.

 

Back of buckle showing stress cracks from bending.

Question:

What do you do at that point?

 

Answer:

Simply replacing the missing stones was still an option.  However, once metal has bent, it “wants” to bend in that very same spot again, causing further damage to the piece.  We suggested to the owner that our silversmith could solder a thicker sheet of silver to the back of the buckle, making it much stronger and resistant to any further flexing. 

 

Question:

How is that done?

 

Answer:

Our silversmith removes all of the stones from the front, as well as all of the pieces from the back (the buckle bar, pin, and Massie’s signature plate).  He hot solders a piece of sterling silver, cut exactly to size, to the back of the buckle to add stability, and then reattaches everything the way it was.  The end result is that the buckle looks exactly the same as it did, just a little heftier in weight.

 

Question:

Was there an additional charge for that?

 

Answer:

Yes.  The charge for restoring the buckle in this fashion was $200, instead of $85.  The customer decided to have us restore his buckle, as he was looking forward to wearing it frequently.

Repaired buckle back

Repaired buckle front.

 

Old Town Trading Company has been in business in Scottsdale, AZ for 26 years and has 2 Native American artists who perform expert repairs and renovations to new and vintage pieces.

 

Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West

4009 N. Brown Avenue

Scottsdale, AZ  85251

480-970-8065

Attn: Diane

jewelsofthewest@qwestoffice.net

 

Native American Jewelry Repair – Watch for Upcoming Series

Repairing Native American Jewelry

We receive many queries from customers and readers who have a Native American jewelry item that they want repaired.

There is a difference between repair and restoration.

If a bracelet has a break in one of the sterling silver wire bands and you want that break fixed so you can wear the bracelet, that is an example of a repair.

If you have inherited a vintage squash blossom necklace which has lost two stones and has several crushed blossoms, and you want it to be fixed so that it looks like it did originally, that would be an example of a restoration.

Repairing an adjustable chip inlay ring, that only cost $10 originally, could be cost prohibitive – unless the ring is so dear to you that cost is not an issue.

However, with a vintage belt buckle that your grandfather wore every day and passed along to your father and now he to you  – that might be a different story. The restoration might be costly but could result in an irreplaceable heirloom.

Any repairs to Native American jewelry should be done by craftsmen experienced specifically in Native American jewelry techniques and who have access to materials commonly use in Native American jewelry.

To help you learn about repairs and restoration, I’m partnering with a friend in Scottsdale who happens to work at such an establishment.  Watch for the first in our series of repair articles coming soon !

 

Jewelry Repair – Native American Cast Bracelet

Hi Paula,

I have a split band Sterling Silver Tufacast cuff with one turquoise stone set in a bezel that is soldered to all 4 bands.  There is a fine crack almost all the way through one of the bands due to opening and closing the bracelet (which I no longer do). Should I have it repaired or leave as is?  Will the stone need to be removed?  What if I just melt silver solder over the crack as a patch to camouflage it?

Thank you, Lenora

First some definitions so all readers are on the same page here.

A split band bracelet can have 2 bands or as many as, well 20 or more. Lenora’s bracelet is a cast bracelet with 4 bands.There are also split band bracelets that are not cast.

Split band bracelets might also be referred to as a 4 Wire bracelet or sometimes a Spread Wire bracelet and yet that would not be correct as there are differences.

A split band is a bracelet made of one strip of sterling silver whose mid section has been sliced lengthwise into the desired number of bands so that the bands are open in the center (such as the plain sterling silver cast bracelet below) or can reach out and attach to the centerpiece, usually a nice turquoise stone.

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

A wire bracelet is similar in end result but is made by joining the desired number of sterling silver wires together at their ends to form the end pieces of the cuff bracelet.

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

Tufa Cast and Sand Cast are basically the same procedure and you can read about the Sand Cast process in a previous post.

Lenora doesn’t say where the crack is exactly but most likely it is where one of the bands is attached to the back of the stone setting.

When a repair is made to sterling silver, heat is involved. Usually the stone would have to be removed or your risk at the least, the stone losing its adhesion to its setting and at the worst, the stone cracking or otherwise being damaged.

I would not advise camouflaging the crack with silver solder unless you are an experienced silversmith but then if you were, you wouldn’t be asking me !

But you bring up an excellent point – many Native American bracelets are damaged when people repeatedly open and close the bracelets to put them on and take them off. This can not only loosen the stones, especially with inlays, but it can also crack the silver.

Read more about selection and care of sterling silver bracelets.

Choosing a Cuff Bracelet

Cuff Bracelet Fit Tips Including Putting a Bracelet On Properly

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Native American Jewelry – Vintage Restoration

Dear Paula:
I have an OLD 10 strand turquoise heishi necklace. It’s falling apart because the string is so old and there is no clasp its all tied in one big knot.
The beads are delicate and some are crumbling.
Help! Denee


Hello Denee,

The very old necklaces were strung with string, often heavy cotton thread such as coatmakers used to use to sew on buttons. Eventually with time, the thread deteriorates from wear and moisture. We have had some extremely heavy old turquoise necklaces in our pawn shop and I was so surprised to see that they were strung with string, and yet that was the way.

249 gram vintage turquoise necklace strung with string !!

249 gram vintage turquoise necklace strung with string !!

Today the artists can use all kinds of synthetic (and long lasting) threads and cords, memory wire (stainless steel wire that retains its shape), imitation sinew, elastic cord and foxtail which is a strong woven nickel chain that resists abrasion from beads sliding and moving.

As far as the turquoise stones, the very old stones were completely natural, that is, not treated or protected in any way. That’s why they are starting to crumble because turquoise, over time, can become dry and brittle and it reacts to oils and other things in the environment that cause the stone to break down.

Today almost all turquoise heishi is made from natural turquoise that has been treated in some way to protect the color from fading or changing and to keep the stone from crumbling. You can read about the various types of Turquoise here

The old style way of fastening a multi-strand necklace together is a squaw wrap which doesn’t involve any fasteners. Here is an example of what a squaw wrap looks like on a single strand fetish necklace.

Squaw Wrap

Squaw Wrap

Now as far as your 10-strand necklace, I wish I could recommend a Native American artist to restring your treasure, but I simply do not have someone to refer you to. When I have researched beads for other Non-Native American projects, and searched something like “stringing beads” in google, I came upon quite a number of (non NA) people that make new heishi necklaces and think you might find someone that way to restring your necklace.

As far as restoring your stones, I think leaving them as is would be best as that way they show the wabi-sabi of their vintage character.

I truly wish I could be more help, but perhaps by posting this, someone will reply that is a Native American jewelry restorer and I can put you in touch with each other.

Best of luck, Paula