What kind of turquoise is in this Nickel Silver Bell Pendant?

Hi Paula,

I have a pendant stamped with Nickel Silver and the Bell emblem.  What I’m wondering about is the turquoise that is in it.  It has a large flat oval piece in the center which is surrounded by 10 round pieces.  The pendant is about 2″ in size.

I’ve read your list of types of turquoise to try to identify it.  It has no veining in it at all, and is a very clear, consistent color of turquoise.  In fact, it really doesn’t look like real turquoise at all to me.  How can I tell what it is?
pendant.mason1 pendant.mason2Hi Vicki,
Taking into consideration the color and consistency and that this is a Nickel pendant, I’d say this is imitation turquoise.
Here is a nickel bracelet with faux turquoise in our pawn shop for your reference.
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Which Albert Cleveland Pins and Pendants are solid Sterling?

Hi Paula,

I am confused about which Albert Cleveland thunderbird pins/pendants are actually solid sterling silver.

This one says “Wonderful old style pin made from heavy gauge sterling silver platein the description but yet the pendant is stamped sterling? It was $79.

NPN726-thunderbird-turq-cleveland-1Then you have this one that says “Wonderful old style pin made from heavy gauge sterling silver” in the description. It doesn’t say plate, is also stamped sterling and is also $79.

This is also stamped sterling, does not say plate but was $135

Ive been watching this site for a thunderbird pin or pendant to appear but the descriptions and pricing is confusing. I would like one that is solid sterling not plated. I appreciate your assistance.



HI Lauren,
We don’t sell any plated items. All were and are solid sterling.
Since those pins are all sold, it is a moot point. but……………
….years ago I used to describe the form of the solid sterling silver material that the artists use to cut out and then stamp as “plate” (because they are big plates of sterling silver) but people like you were confused so I quit using the term plate. The silversmiths use solid sterling silver rods, wire, sheet etc etc. So when describing some bracelets we say silver wire.
I was just trying to be colorful and complete in my descriptions but I saw that the word plate (being a solid sheet of sterling silver) can be confused with plated (some other material with a coating of sterling) so I have changed how I describe it to be clear. Those were OLD SOLD listings.
All of the items you asked about were solid sterling silver and sold quite a few years back.
Although Albert Cleveland is currently making most of his items in nickel silver which has no silver in it at all yet is often confusingly called Silver (read about Nickel Silver here) and Copper (read about copper here) we only carry solid sterling silver items.
Oh I see. Thank for the reply. That totally makes sense now. I knew they were sold but I have been keeping an eye out for one to pop up that I liked alot from your site and I just wanted to fully understand what I might be buying.
Thanks again,

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here

If you are selling your jewelry, read this

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping


Chip Inlay Belt Buckle – Identification Please?

Hello Paula,

I was poking around to try to identify a belt buckle which I bought based on it having been purchased on an Indian Reservation in the 1970s. It’s large and heavy and arrestingly designed so I thought I might be able to find the tribe and artist. I did find another similar buckle that had been sold and looks like it had been made by the same artist but there was no info on that one either. Would you be willing to take a look? Linda

Vintage Chip Inlay Belt Buckle

Thanks, Paula.

This is 4-1/8″ by 3″ and weighs 120 grams. Serious size.  There is turquoise, coral and a brown stone about which I’m not sure. Could be tiger’s eye but I’m really not sure. All set in black, larger pieces of stone than usual and the design seems exceptional. I found this buckle by googling, which may have been done by the same person. I’d love to identify at least which peublo or tribe, if not the artist. This
is the other one I found which looks to be the same artist:

Reference Chip Inlay Buckle

Information with the above reference buckle:

Beautiful heavily vintage 50’s-60’s turquoise and coral inlay Phoenix buckle! The buckle consists of a turquoise and coral large chip inlay. The artist continues decorating with multiple etched floral designs completely around the inlay and throughout the buckle. The artist finishes by attaching a stationary solid belt holder and pin on back.The buckle measures approximately 3″ by 2 7/16″ and weighs 69.6 grams (2.45 ounces or 2.24 troy ounces). It is unsigned and possibly Mexican Alpaca Silver. It does have a yellowish haze to it meaning the other metals are more copper than nickel. The buckle will accommodate up to a 2″ wide belt.

My buckle is much more lovely in person than the pics, but enough to give  you a good idea, I hope. Linda

Hi Linda,

Well you did most of the work here ! My job is easy. Before even seeing the photo and information on the reference buckle that you sent, I suspected this was a Mexican-made buckle. Although you didn’t send a photo of the back of the buckle, where one can see the effects of time on the metal, I suspect this is not sterling silver but Alpaca. If you suspect it could be sterling silver, a simple test at a jewelers will tell you whether it is or not. If it is sterling silver, due to its weight, it would be worth a lot more than if it was alpaca.

Alpaca is a term that is often stamped on Mexican (and German) pieces and sometimes it is called Alpaca Silver but it contains no silver at all. Alpaca is usually composed of 65% copper, 18% nickel and 17% zinc. It is similar to German Silver and Nickel Silver (read full article about silver here).

The stylized road runner design and the use of the large chips does not look Native American to me. Nor does the engraving which appears on both buckles. The chips seem to be made of turquoise, coral and perhaps faux tortoiseshell.

So when you say you purchased the buckle based on the fact it was purchased on an Indian Reservation in the 1970s, it sounds like it might have been misrepresented. But that is just my humble opinion !

The main thing is that if you like it, enjoy it ! Thanks for writing and best of luck.