Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces inspire awe in all who gaze upon their beauty. Steeped in tradition and innovation, this necklace has become an iconic symbol of Navajo jewelry.
Despite how sacred this necklace is, many fakes and knockoffs exist to capitalize on this necklace’s popularity. At Palms Trading Company, we want to give you tips on spotting a fake Navajo Squash Blossom necklace. When in doubt, check out our store, where we authenticate every squash blossom necklace we sell.
Navajo Squash Blossom Necklace Design
The Navajo Squash Blossom necklace is truly a global innovation. Almost every characteristic that makes this piece unique came from inspirations from other cultures.
The Naja, which means “crescent,” is the pendant on Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces. The Navajo admired this symbol adorned by the incoming Spaniards to their regions. The Spanish initially adopted this symbol from the invading Moors of the Middle East.
Before the Navajo learned silversmithing from the Spanish in the 1800s, they would trade with the Spanish to acquire these crescent-shaped embellishments.
Squash Blossom Beads
The beads used as the squash blossoms were also thought to have been borrowed from Spanish design. Before the Navajo began creating their own beads, they often used Spanish-Mexican trouser and coat embellishments. These adornments resembled pomegranate flowers which were popular symbols for the incoming Spaniards.
Though there is controversy surrounding the origins of the Navajo squash blossom beads, many believe the Navajo adopted the squash blossom design from the Spaniards’ pomegranate flower design.
Squash Blossom Necklace Construction
Silver and turquoise are the most common materials used, but you can also find variations that include other types of beads and semi-precious stones.
A Navajo Squash Blossom necklace will always feature the Naja as the pendant. The squash blossom beads or adornments will rise from the pendant on each side. There are typically 6 blossoms lining each side of the necklace.
Now that you know what an authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklace looks like, here are some tips to help authenticate the squash blossom necklaces you see.
Buying Directly from the Artists or Dealers
Many online stores, auction sites, and individuals sell squash blossom necklaces. Though some may have authentic pieces, it’s best to purchase these necklaces directly from the artist or authorized dealer.
Artists and registered businesses have the expertise to authenticate pieces and the materials used in these pieces. At Palms Trading Company, we work directly with artists and never purchase pieces from third parties. We also clearly label any pieces that we were unable to authenticate.
Looking for Signatures
Look at the back of the necklace for anything engraved into the silver. It could be the artist’s signature or a hallmark. For example, many modern pieces are stamped with “SS” to authenticate the sterling silver used.
If you see a signature, research the artist, or ask the seller to tell you more about the artisan.
Authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces typically sell for around $1,500. The Najas, when sold separately, cost about $300. If you come across a necklace sold at a considerably lower price, it’s probably fake. These necklaces are hand-made, use real silver and turquoise, and take time to craft.
Trying the Magnet Test
Silver has a weak magnetic pull. When putting a magnet on a squash blossom necklace made with solid silver, the magnet will either not stick or barely produce an effect.
If a magnet sticks firmly onto a necklace, it means the silver contains a mix of metals or a “plated” core. Silver plating isn’t always indicative of a fake, but it should encourage you to do more research.
Older necklaces, especially those made by the Navajo in the late 1800s and early 1900s, may contain silver ingots. This means they used melted coins or slugs to produce the piece because that’s what they had access to.
Observing for the Word “Style”
Often, sellers of fake Navajo jewelry will use the word “style” in the item’s description. In fact, it’s illegal for people who are not Navajo to use the word “Navajo” when describing a product, they’ve produced.
To avoid facing prosecution, these sellers use “Navajo style,” “Indian style,” or “Native American style” in their product descriptions.
Looking for Wear on Vintage Pieces
Vintage squash blossom necklaces will have signs of wear:
Vintage pieces shouldn’t look shiny. Ask the seller how old the necklace is. It should have many signs of wear if it’s decades or centuries old.
Checking for Genuine Turquoise
American laws require sellers to state the kind (natural, stabilized, etc.) of turquoise used in jewelry. Plastic turquoise will always be fake. Stabilized turquoise goes through a process where epoxy makes the stone harder and more brilliant in color. Natural turquoise is never altered.
Most real Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces contain natural turquoise.
Identifying Stamp Marks
Turn the necklace over and look around the turquoise. Hand-made pieces will have uneven marks or slight imprints from the artisan’s hammer. Mass-produced or fake necklaces will have uniform marks and grooves indicating a machine constructed the piece.
Verifying How the Stones are Secured
Fake squash blossom necklaces use an adhesive to secure the turquoise or other stones used in the piece. Authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklaces always use natural materials to hold the stones in place. A common technique used by the Navajo includes using sawdust to secure stones in jewelry.
When examining the piece, it’s best to ask the seller or dealer to check it. This ensures that you won’t damage the necklace during inspection.
Where to Buy Your Own Squash Blossom Necklace
Whether buying an authentic Navajo Squash Blossom necklace or needing help authenticating your own, you can trust Palms Trading Company.
We buy directly from the artist, and our knowledgeable staff can help you authenticate your piece. We also clearly label all of our jewelry; if a piece can’t be authenticated, you’ll see that on its label.
Come by our store in Albuquerque or contact us today. Let us help you find your next Navajo Squash Blossom necklace.