Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Neck, arm AND eye candy, all in one shot.  The large white necklace, and where it came from, is what this post is actually about, but the magazine shot doesn't hurt (and was done with my Mom in mind).  Hell on Wheels starts back up for a final season on June 11th - if you haven't been watching it all along, you need to look up the back seasons on Netflix, because you don't know what you've been missing!  Anyway, back to the neck candy - it came this week in my mail, and it's spectacular!
I talked a little in the last post about knowing who you are buying Native American jewelry (or other artworks) from, and someone commented about online buying being a bad idea.  I agree - buying valuable jewelry online would probably be the last thing I EVER suggest unless you really know what it is you're after.  My dad, who has collected Indian art and antiquities for 50+ years, peruses eBay and the online sites in his spare time, and has commented to me about an increase in newer pieces being made to look old in this market, as well.  Reproduction pieces seem to be the norm, anymore, and you have to beware with just about everything.

However, if you REALLY pay attention to detail, check a seller's feedback, and KNOW what you're looking at (research WISELY, in other words), there ARE honest dealers out there.  You just have to use your head.  Dad and I have both made fabulous eBay purchases...the best one I've made to date arrived this past week - a purchase made from someone selling off a small collection of personal items collected in the 60s in New Mexico.  They were ALL the real deal.

The necklace above (and below) was in that collection - a beautiful Santo Domingo White Clamshell Heishi and Natural Turquoise necklace.  It has, very obviously, been in a vault, on a peg for the past 50 years.  I would be very surprised if it has seen more than one wearing - it is THAT pristine!
I DID know what I was looking at when I stumbled upon the auction, but not exactly how spectacular, or substantial, this purchase was until it arrived.  This necklace was (and it HAS been verified to be authentic, already) crafted in the Santo Domingo Indian Pueblo in New Mexico (about 25 miles south of Santa Fe and 35 miles north of Albuquerque - or pretty much "smack-dab" in the middle) by one of their skilled artisans - the exact maker may never be known due to the age of the piece, but we have a pretty good idea from the way the jaclas at the bottom are attached.

There are ten strands of hand ground clamshell and natural turquoise heishi.  The turquoise jaclas (jaclas were actually worn as earrings by the Indian women - when not being worn in the ears, they were usually tied onto the bottoms of their necklaces) are connected permanently with what is known as a "squaw wrap", which you typically see at the neck of a necklace.  Each of the heishi beads measures approx. 3/8" wide by 1/8" tall - and, in true tradition, there are real, red coral beads at the tops of the jaclas.

The necklace measures a total of approximately 21.5" in length - 15.5" from the neck wrap to the bottom of the white shells, and another 6" for the turquoise jaclas.  This beauty weighs in at 275 gms., or approx. 10 ounces - the equivalent of a can of Campbell's Soup!
I was told the 86 year-old woman and her husband purchased this in the 1960s, directly from the Santo Domingo Pueblo.  My Mom has beautiful pieces of jewelry from Santo Domingo as well, and I remember visiting it as a small child.  While the woman said she could remember very little detail, in all actuality with the time frame, it is very likely that it was purchased out of this iconic trading post, on the reservation.

While the bright signage was intended to attract tourists and was common at roadside trading posts and curio shops during the early 20th century (black and white photo is circa 1954), the post also served as an important source of food stuffs and finished goods for neighboring tribal residents of the Santo Domingo Pueblo.  President JFK was said to have visited the post in 1962 (see the small round sign on the post in the right hand side of the color photo - photo circa 1971).
The post was constructed in 1922, adjacent to the railroad and a small highway that would later become a short-lived alignment of Route 66.  This two-story building was constructed just north of an older trading post that dated to 1880, and was used as a warehouse by the owners of the new post.

The trading post was nearly destroyed by fire in 2001, and has undergone more than a million dollars worth of renovation.  NPS grants through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program have helped provide stabilization measures in 2007, and a 2013 grant helped to restore the historic facade painting.  It is scheduled for a grand reopening this July 9th - click here for more info:
Also called Kewa Pueblo now, residents of the pueblo maintain their traditional religious practices and social structure to this day.  The pueblo has a long history of producing, trading, and sell crafts, especially jewelry and pottery.  You can visit the pueblo and still observe the traditional way of life there, even attending ceremonial events such as the corn dance, held every year on August 4th.  As with any of the pueblos, there are rules to be followed before attending.  For more information, check out: 
Bottom (color) photo is part of the modern day Santo Domingo pueblo...notice the ceremonial Kiva in the middle of the photo.  If you get a hankerin' to travel this summer, legendary Route 66 holds some pretty remarkable treasures throughout the American Southwest.  And me, I'm tickled to death to have my hands on this remarkable treasure of my own.  Plans are to keep it as pristine as it is now, but to love and WEAR it...gently.  This was made to be seen - after 50 years of storage, it's time!
And, I'll leave you with this...not all my SW jewelry is Native American made.  As I stressed in the last post, collect what "calls" to you - collect what YOU like - collect what you LOVE.

If it's important to you WHO made it, do a little research (these were made by an Anglo artisan in NM, and I loved them the minute I set eyes on them, so they're mine now).

PLEASE be cognizant of knockoffs, those selling them, and who they might be affecting with their dishonesty, other than you and your purchase.  There are true and honest artisans out there who would LOVE to sell you something made from their heart, without trying to pull the wool over your eyes!  Happy Tuesday...hope you do some travelin' this week - whether in a car or just wanderin' someplace wonderful in your mind!  XOXO


kathyinozarks said...

Good morning, what a treasure you have found-will you wear it? always enjoy the history you share-hugs

Jackie said...

Wow, beautiful jewelry, wish I could afford some of that sweet stuff! One I day I will go buy some turquoise from NM....on my bucket list!

Mary Ann Potter said...

The necklace is such a beautiful treasure! I love the history with it as well. In these days of "made in China" on so many things, it's important to have knowledge of what you buy. Another most valuable post, Tanya!

Maywyn Studio said...

Another great informative post, thank you

I've also back in the day bought a nice pieces on eBay (from sellers I knew online). It is a waiting game with a lot of know what you are doing.

Quinn said...

Your previous post brought back a lot of memories of when I lived in CO and spent time in NM and AZ, way back when. The pawnshops of the southwest were a revelation to me!
Congratulations on your amazing find - my gosh, that's a beauty. And as always, your pictures and historical information are so interesting.

Colleen Mcgraw said...

wow that is a fabulous necklace, what a find and such weight to it, but I especially LOVE the bracelets, you have a great collection going on here