Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello folks, nice to find you here again. It's been a busy week for Caprilicious. Last Sunday I was on the Earrings show and seven pairs of earrings found a new home, as well as Surfers Haven. I was so busy at the day job that I wasn't able to post all of them out immediately - the last parcel went out to South Carolina on Thursday. People have obviously been procreating furiously during the lockdown period, we are up to our eyes in babies and consequently, I am exhausted.
I still managed to put my Christmas tree up and decorate it and that was the extent of my creative endeavours this week. However, I did spend some time thinking about what I will make next, so at least next week will be more fulfilling.
Costume jewellery, and women who wear it are of two kinds in my opinion - there are those who don't mind spending a whole load of money on lots and lots of inexpensive but showy, sometimes quite pretty and highly visible jewellery - usually made of plastic beads, acrylic 'gemstones', and base material that falls apart after being worn a few times - however, it looks effective when worn new, is inexpensive and fulfils the requirement for variety. In my experience, when one buys inexpensive goods, one doesn't tend to place any value on them and they get stored all higgledy piggledy in a basket or drawer. When they are next picked up, they may have lost stones, bits might have fallen off and the metal may be tarnished with a strange odour.
And then there are those who would spend their money on a few select, more expensive pieces - handmade, beaded, individualistic, made to last pieces. I include silver jewellery and semi precious stones in this category.
There is, of course the jewellery made of precious stones, gold and other precious metals bought for their resale value, to show the wearers wealth and status - this started in cultures that needed to liquidate their assets on and off, and when banking facilities were either untrustworthy or non existent.
My mother always thought about the 'resale value' of any jewellery she bought, although I've never known her to sell a single piece, ever. I was always told that it was the round diamond that kept its resale value - so when I eventually picked an engagement ring, I chose a rectangular stone as I have no intention of ever selling it.
I thought I'd show you a piece of jewellery from my personal collection and tell you a bit about its history. It came to me from Santa Fe, from an estate sale and I just love it - a vintage Squash Blossom Necklace.
Squash blossom necklaces like the one in the adjacent picture were originally made by the Navajo people, and the name is due to the flared flower silver elements that closely resemble the trumpet shaped flowers of the squash plant. However, it is more likely that they represent pomegranates - the Spanish were thought to have brought this imagery to other parts of the world when they colonised it and the Indians copied the flower from the buttons of the Spanish soldiers' uniforms.
The Squash Blossom is an art form made by many Native and non-Native artists throughout the Southwest and beyond. Metalsmithing came first to the Navajo tribes in the late 1800s when they began to make bridles and other ironmongery for their horses, and eventually came in useful when they began to wear their wealth on their bodies.
The central semilunar or horseshoe shaped pendant is called a Naja and there are so many variations of this pendant. The Naja is a stylised crescent shape that might have been brought to Spain by the Moors, and from there to the Americas.
The crescent shape is a classic Islamic talisman which the Moors used to affix to their horses bridles to ward off the evil eye, and it is thought that the Navajo may have seen it on the Spanish/Mexican army horses and adopted it.
The floral elements in my necklace are made of Turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise mines in Arizona. I have talked about this before on the blog - commercially available turquoise beads are mostly dyed howlite.
The Sleeping beauty mines produce turquoise that is a clear robin's egg blue. Turquoise is very important to the Native Indian and has a very mystical and almost sentient quality. It is given as gifts and carried by hunters, warriors and tribesmen for protection, and used in offerings to the rain God and in water divining. The old medicine men of the Navajo prefer turquoise from the Kingman mines that have a matrix, dark markings, and spider webbing which they think brings them closer to the spirits.
The turquoise elements in my necklace are held in hand carved spiky individual settings that resembles embroidery, and are called petit point settings. Zuni Petit point has been made since the early 1900s and is a unique form of turquoise jewellery created by the Zuni Indians. A Petit Point stone is a tiny stone hand cut by a Zuni Indian lapidarist. Petit Point is unique to them and not made anywhere else in the world. The little silver beads in between the turquoise are also handmade and are called Navajo pearls - they are hollow, seamed silver beads made by the Navajo people in multiple sizes, the smaller ones are generally used in Squash Blossom necklaces.
My necklace has Petit Point settings and is reversible - it is set with coral on the back. Let me show you the piece we have been talking about in all its glory.
I hope you've enjoyed a potted history of the Squash Blossom Necklace. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place.