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

 

GM hallmark on Squash Blossom Necklace

Dear Paula,

I recently posted on darasattic an old squash necklace with the artists mark c l v l. You can see it on my post or facebook.

With all the caveats on my blog, is this artist known? What do you think of the piece? I aquired it early ’80s and it was old then. Haven’t polished it but see someone tried since there’s alittle blue silver polish left on back of one of the grooves of the “horshoe” silver backing of the naja.

Any thoughts or help?

Loved this blog and your beautiful samples of choice squashes.
Best,
Dara the Collector

Hi Dara,

When I enlarged the hallmark photo form your blog, I saw “GM” not what you suggested above.

With that said, I don’t recognize the hallmark and although there are several GM hallmarks in my hallmark books, none look quite like this one so I hesitate to suggest them.

Perhaps others have some ideas.

Paula

Navajo Tommy Singer Bamboo Coral and Treasure Necklaces

Hi Paula,

I am interested in some of Tommy Singer’s work which is displayed on your website.

Items NHS828, NH878, NH827, and the multi-strand bamboo coral.

Tommy Singer 3 Strand Gemstone Necklace
Tommy Singer Turquoise Gemstone Necklace
Tommy Singer Purple Spiny Oyster Gemstone Necklace
Tommy Singer 7 Strand Bamboo Coral Gemstone Necklace

I am wondering what percentage of the beads he uses are actually handmade/handformed by him or his family. My wife and I are building a collection, trying to stick to sole-authorship pieces.

Any information you can give me on these pieces, or any others you might have by Tommy and others would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and best regards,

Charlie

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for your inquiry.

The 12K gold filled barrel beads that are decorated, gold, black silver are made by Tommy Singer. Also the solid sterling silver barrel beads are made by him. They are on most of his necklaces. They are his signature treasure necklace beads.

The purple and orange spiny oyster and turquoise heishi style disc beads are made by him. Also the other gemstone beads that are disc style.

The long narrow bamboo coral – I am not sure but I think not made by him.

The little sterling silver decorative spacers – I think not made by him.

The sterling silver cone ends are not made by him.

So a high percentage of what goes into his necklace is hand made by Tommy Singer or his family.

Doris and James Coriz make all the component of their necklaces, for example

Spirit Necklace made by Doris and James Coriz, Santo Domingo
Olive Shell Fish Necklace by James and Doris Coriz, Santo Domingo
Close up of fish

These artists also make ALL of the heishi right on the “string” so to speak.

10 Strand Heishi Necklace by Janice Tenorio, Santo Domingo
Close up of Tenorio heishi

Enjoy browsing and let me know if I can help further.

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Native American Chiclet (Chicklet) Necklaces

Santo Domingo Chiclet Necklace

In 1899, US gum manufacturers formed a conglomerate, The American Chicle Company.

In 1906 Frank Fleer (does his name ring a bell, bubble gum lovers?) began making a hard-shelled, candy-coated white peppermint gum called Chiclets.

Chicle is the English version of the word tzikiti (“sticky stuff”), the Nahuatl word for the resin that makes chewing gum. Oddly enough though, Chiclets are made from a different gum base!

By 1920, Chiclets were available in bright colors: yellow, green, orange, red, white, and pink. The small shiny rectangles each had a different flavor – mostly fruits; the white was still peppermint.

Chiclets Gum

Native Americans, most specifically Santo Domingo artists, began calling their colorful, multi-stone necklaces “Chiclet Necklaces” and it is easy to see why.

Santo Domingo Chiclet Necklace

Some Santo Domingo artists add small treasures among the chiclets and call the necklaces Treasure Necklaces.

Santo Domingo Treasure Necklace with Fetish Bear

Santo Domingo Treasure Necklace with Pipestone Hummingbird Fetish


What Makes Turquoise Change Color?

Paula,

My mom bought a ring and bracelet many years ago on a family trip and she wore them all the time, including when she did the dishes.

I’ve inherited those items but the stones are a very dark green. I remember them being bright and more blue. What happened to them and is there any way I can scrub them to restore them. Thank you, Sandy.

Vintage Fred Harvey Era Green Turquoise Ring

Hi Sandy,

You don’t say what kind of jewelry this is, but I’m guessing it is turquoise you are talking about. Here is one post I’ve written on the topic of Green Turquoise

and here are some more thoughts on the subject.

Turquoise Changing Color

Turquoise is porous. Grease and oil can change the color of natural turquoise by seeping into its pores. I’m not talking about your car’s grease and oil here, but simply human body oils and products we all use around the home every day.

Skin oil is produced as a normal, healthy part of keeping skin pliable. Some people routinely produce more skin oil than others and all people tend to produce more skin oil in warm or humid climates. Exercise and stress can increase the production of natural body oils.

Products that can cause turquoise to change color include moisturizers, suntan oil, body butter, conditioners. And many cosmetic sprays such as hair spray, spritz, cologne and other products can coat or clog a stones pores and change its color.

Household products such as dishwater, soap, detergent, furniture sprays and anything with an oil or grease ingredient have the potential to alter the appearance of turquoise.

Untreated, natural turquoise of very high quality (sometimes called Precious Turquoise) resists color change.

Natural Blue Ridge Turquoise Bracelet by Arnold Blackgoat

But if turquoise is of moderate or lesser quality, it can be more likely to change color when it comes in contact with water and oils.

However, 10 stones from the same mine might all change colors at a different rate. That’s why, for example, on old pawn pieces, such as a cluster pin or squash blossom necklace, as the stones age, some stones might turn a slightly different color than others. Here is a good example of that.

Vintage Squash Blossom Necklace - All stones are original. Note the variation of color between the stones as they have aged.

 

Stabilized turquoise (treated with resin) resists color change. Turquoise used to make heishi necklaces is stabilized for two reasons – to prevent breakage and to protect the color.

New Stabilized Turquoise Heishi Choker by Santo Domingo Ella Mae Garcia

An unstabilized turquoise choker would turn dark green in a matter of months from skin oils of the neck area.

Some turquoise is enhanced, that is, it is treated to bring out the intensity of its color. When oils come in contact with turquoise, they essentially do the same thing, they deepen or enhance the color….at least in the short term…..but eventually, not only does the turquoise become darker, it becomes greener also. I’ve seen some vintage stones that almost look a blackish green.

If a bracelet has a very large stone that has turned green, it is possible to have it buffed to restore the original color somewhat. But this is something to be done by an experienced jeweler familiar with turquoise. He or she will know the right products to use and procedures to follow.

In closing, I have to admit I LOVE the old greenish turquoise as is – it speaks stories ! Enjoy !

Vintage Turkey Track Turquoise and Sterling Silver Pawn Bracelet

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Horace Iule and his Zuni Cross Legacy

Horace Iule (1901-1978) was a Zuni artist who made a wide variety of sterling silver and stone pieces, most notably traditional Zuni crosses.

Horace worked with his wife Lupe Iule, who was from San Felipe Pueblo. They were married in 1933, and had six children: Ruby, Lupe, Cecilia, Robert, Barney, and Phillip. Cecilia continues in her fathers tradition with the crosses.

Cecilia creates her crosses from tiny to huge and uses coral, turquoise, and other gem stones.

Vintage Malachite and Opal Cross by Cecilia Iule, Zuni

Horace Iule was taught silversmithing by his father. He made sand-cast items and then embellished them with hammering and die stamping. His children use some of his original casting equipment to continue the Iule cross legacy.


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What is Matrix in a Turquoise Stone?

Matrix is the term used to describe the contrasting material in a parent rock – usually turquoise.

Matrix can be thick channels or delicate fine lines like a spiderweb.

Spiderweb Matrix in #8 Turquoise

It is usually made of iron pyrite and can look like fleks, spots or distinct veins.

Some people like stones WITHOUT matrix – they are called “clear stones”.

Clear Turquoise Stones in a Donovan Cadman Cluster Bracelet

Other people are drawn to the variations in the shapes and colors of turquoise with matrix.

Matrix can add texture to the stone as well as a bit of glimmer in some cases.

The most common matrix colors seen in turquoise are black, brown and honey.

Black Matrix in Turquoise Mountain Turquoise

Brown Matrix in Fox Mountain Turquoise

Honey Colored Matrix in an Emerald Valley Turquoise Bracelet

When turquoise is cut so that there is more Mother Rock than Turquoise, it is called Boulder Turquoise. So in this case the “veins” are turquoise !

Boulder Turquoise Pendant

So many beautiful stones to enjoy !

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