Vintage Turquoise Jewelry

Vintage Turquoise jewelry is  readily recognized by its distinct blue-green coloring. In the past, authentic turquoise jewelry pieces were much sought after because of the gem’s rarity. But this type of jewelry fell somewhat out of favor over the last three decades; when synthetics and simulations flooded the market. However, a true jewelry connoisseur therefore, prefers shopping for vintage turquoise.

Examples of desirable vintage pieces include the gorgeous blue gems from Iran. They do not feature any veins. Tibetan collectors frequently look for predominantly green turquoise;  since this coloring is much more preferred in this part of the world. Mexican and North American turquoise features the famous bluish green hue and often has a generous display of veining in brown and ochre colorations.

Perhaps the most famous and plentiful American source of turquoise is Arizona’s Sleeping Beauty Mine. With Southwestern mines gradually running out of minable product; the Sleeping Beauty firmly establishes its importance in the modern-day jewelry trade.

For the vintage lover, the imported product that Lorenzo Hubble brought across from Iran in the 1800s is of more interest. It is this gem supply that is most commonly associated with the turn-of-the-century Navajo silver and turquoise jewelry products. When Nevada mines opened in the 1900s, the use of the expensive Iranian gem was gradually discontinued. Other Native American tribes incorporated the turquoise into their jewelry making. True connoisseurs are frequently able to differentiate a Navajo pendant from a Zuni or Hopi product simply by the distinct style elements that the artisans have employed.

At the same time, Navajo artisans incorporated a pomegranate-like shaping into their products. In fact, Zuni pieces more often favor the use of cabochons with a flat bottom and rounded top. San Domingo pieces perfected the manufacture of disc-shaped turquoise pieces. Yet even here, there are some overlaps. Indeed, the jewelry buyer will do well to learn how to date the individual pieces. Also, they have a good working relationship with a gemologist or appraiser who specializes in this type of jewelry.

The majority of vintage turquoise pieces date back to the 1950’s and 60’s, when movie stars made turquoise jewelry a highly desirable fashion item. The 1970’s saw a resurgence in the demand for Native American pieces. Unlike the tribal pieces of the 1800’s and 1900’s; these pieces now became connected to particular artisans like Zunis Porfilio and Ann Sheyka. Since these modern artisans sign their pieces, it is often very easy to tell them apart from the imitations.