Vintage Native American (?) Jewelry Anyone?
This necklace came down to me through the family with very little information. I know 'family lore' isn't the most reliable, but on this piece, I got nothin'! I didn't use to like it much, but lately, it's really grown on me, and it's got me wondering...
I know my father travelled to New Mexico often during the early 1960's through 1970's, and may have bought this necklace then. However, I don't think so, because my Mom told me about the other pieces he bought, and my Mom was never a jewelry buff. Mom also bought a few pieces during the late 1990's with her sister, who moved to Albuquerque in the 1980's and became quite knowledgeable about Indian jewelry. But again - I don't think so, because she hardly ever wore this piece. Which leaves one of my grandmothers, both of whom loved jewelry and had pretty good taste.
I think the stone is turquoise, though admittedly, it's like no other turquoise I have ever seen. The color is much deeper, and the stone appears harder, more polished and somehow, more transluscent. (It's not cracked.) Also, there's some white veining in there, and 'blue on blue', which isn't typical for turquoise. So I think it might be a type of agate, or possibly a variety of turquoise called 'Blue Gem' that was used more often in the 1930's and 1940's.
The design looks like Thunderbirds, with arrows, bear claws and other symbols. There is no signature or hallmark on the back -- no markings of any kind that I can see, though looking on the backside, the medallion appears to be hand-hammered. The links are very unusual, and resemble 'pop-top-chains' more than anything else I can think of. ;-) The tooling is very clear and precise, and the workmanship looks excellent. The original clasp broke and was replaced by a simple hook.
So -- Any guesses as to age or origin?