Yourgreatfinds News

Bucket List: Petrified Forest in Arizona

Bucket List: Petrified Forest in Arizona

It's on my bucket list. I have driven through the area, seen the signs and never had time to stop. One day I am going on a road trip to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert in Arizona. I want to spend all day there, maybe two. I'll have to go in the early spring so that it won't be too hot. Maybe there will be blooming wildflowers.
It became a National park in 1962 and it is about 230 square miles in size. There is a museum on the property and several "loops" with different kinds of petrified wood to see as well as The Painted Desert. The petrified wood specimens are from the Late Triassic Period. 
More than 200 million years ago, Northeastern Arizona was not the dry desert it is today, but a rich forest filled with trees and vegetation. The climate was humid and sub-tropical with a fresh water streams and rivers. 
Tectonic movement and volcanic eruptions eventually changed the environment drastically. The trees and vegetation died and the downed trees were buried in sediment that contained volcanic ash. Ground water dissolved silica from the ash and carried it into the logs where it formed quartz crystal that replaced the organic matter. Traces of iron oxide and other things mixed with the silica and is responsible for the varied bright colors of the rock. This process is similar to how opal was formed. I wonder if opal was found in the petrified forest...hum...
This is my piece of petrified wood. I've had it for a very long time and I don't even remember where I got it. I am sure that you have seen it as a background in some of my photo shoots. This side of it is polished, the other side is rough and natural. 
Petrified wood has been used in Navajo jewelry for many years. I find it used more often in the older pieces than the modern jewelry. Here are some early Navajo rings and bracelets set with colorful petrified wood.
This is an Art Nouveau piece, not Native American with an outstanding specimen
A modern necklace set with petrified wood.
Here's the thing about obtaining petrified wood for your own use. It is now illegal to remove any petrified wood from the park. The stone can be purchased from verified vendors, but I see it being used much less in modern jewelry.  The supply is certainly controlled. 
And get this: There is a legend of a bad luck curse regarding taking stones from the park. Is it real or was it created to keep people honest? Apparently, at the museum they have a collection of returned rocks and 1200 letters that accompanied said rocks as they were mailed back to the park after being stolen. The thieves wanted relief from the bad luck that followed them from the park in their pockets. The stones cannot be placed back into the park because it would be impossible to find the original spot from which it was taken. To just place them is not natural or correct so they have to stay in the museum. 
Please know that the pieces that I offer were not stolen from the park and they do not have bad luck attached to them. In fact, most of the jewelry creations that I offer were made long before 1962 when the area became a park. I find this stone most typically in pieces that are C. 1910 to 1940. 
In fact, this amazing ring is ingot silver. It is C. 1910 and the silver is smooth and rounded. It feels amazing on your finger. I am sure that this piece is old pawn. 
Petrified wood pieces are fun to collect. Some people collect pieces called landscape agates such as this one. It looks like an underwater seascape. 
I sold this piece years ago. Doesn't it look like the highway going into a sunset?
This early ring can be found on my outlet website.
In my travels, I find mostly rings and bracelets set with this lovely gift from nature. There is one thing that I have never ever seen for sale or not for sale. I have not been able to find one on google. I've never seen one at the antique shows, the Indian jewelry stores, the powwow events or the Indian swap meet. Maybe I should go to to  the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe to see if they have one. 
What am I talking about? I have never seen a sterling silver squash blossom necklace set with petrified wood. Ever. 
The Hunt is on!
Here are a few more fun pieces. The following pieces are not mine:
Doesn't this look like a horse and rider?
And this is is so vibrant!
Below I see a pueblo landscape, an eagle taking flight, a mountain landscape and a trees with lake landscape. Do you see what I see? Which is your favorite?
I love my turquoise, but petrified wood ads a color pallete that turquoise cannot offer. It is so fun to use your imagination to see what the artist saw in a particular stone. Is it a landscape or an animal? It is a fun stone to collect because no two are alike unless cut from the same stone. 
I have several pieces available on my website HERE
and on my outlet website HERE
You can bet that I am always looking for more special pieces. Most of all, I am on the lookout for that squash blossom.  
The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game

I became a seller of turquoise because I am a collector of turquoise. One of my favorite things to do is shop at outdoor antique markets. Years ago I was still working on growing my turquoise collection. I enjoyed searching through cases of vintage jewelry for the rare and natural American turquoise stones. I still love to do this today. It's how I fill my website. I always look for the unusual stones.  

I like natural stones set in examples of early silversmithing or very unusual artistic piece, still with a rustic feel. I was shopping at an outdoor market and came across a vendor that I had never seen there before. He was a Navajo man and had only a couple of jewelry cases. I kind of noticed that he had some wooden things on the table but when I saw this piece in his case my heart skipped a beat and I could see nothing else. It was a large but simple pendant in the shape of a human hand. At the heart of the hand was a long and narrow turquoise stone. It was almost black with small nodules of turquoise. I knew instantly want it was and I wanted it.

I asked this rather gruff and pretty much unfriendly man how much this piece was. He said it's a necklace and it's mine. It's not for sale. It's a good luck charm. Sadly, I had to leave without the pendant. A few months later, I saw him again. I asked about the pendant and once again he told me that it was not for sale and challenged me that I did not know what he had there. I felt like a student being called on by a teacher. I crossed my fingers and answered "Might be Godber, but it might be Lander Blue" much to his surprise. He told me "Yeah, It's Lander Blue and I will never sell it." I told him, "Someday, you will need some fast money and when that day comes, I will be there to buy this piece from you".

Here are some Lander Blue Cabochons:

For about 2 years I would see him every few months and I would ask him " Are you ready to sell the pendant?" His answer was always, "No, It's Lander Blue. It's my good luck charm." And that's how it went for a long time.

You see Lander blue is the rarest of all turquoise. Now, I'm talking about old Lander Blue, not new Lander Blue. It was discovered in 1973 in Nevada and it is said that only about 110 pounds of turquoise was taken from that mine. It is so highly collected and valued that it is sold by the carat.

It was early spring one year and I decided to travel to North to attend an antique event that I had never been to before. I had heard that there were good turquoise dealers there to meet.

I got up at 4 AM to head to the show grounds and... RAIN! It was an outdoor show and it was raining heavily. I had driven 8 hours to attend this event for the first time, so I went anyway. By the time I got to the event the rain had slowed down enough that some of the vendors were setting up. There were not many buyers in attendance so I was able to buy and buy and buy. It did not take long to exhaust my budget.

I was getting ready to leave and realized that I had missed a side row that was tucked over into a corner area. I headed over for a quick look and who was there but my Indian from down South!

I looked into the case and there was the hand pendant waiting for me. As I looked at it I could feel the man staring at me. I looked at him and he had almost a shocked look on his face.

He said "My van broke down. This show is a rained out bust. I need to fix my van. I'll sell you the pendant." I could not pay him fast enough. I finally had it! This great looking piece with Lander Blue!

I saw that man about a year later and he asked me "Hey, you want to sell that piece back to me?" I told him, "No, It's not for sale. It's Lander Blue. It's my good luck charm".

He said to me, "Someday, you'll need some fast money...and I'll be there...

Do I have any Old Lander Blue for sale on my website you ask? I am sorry to say that right now, I do not. But if I ever do, I will be sure that the world knows about my great find. 

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek

The Cripple Creek mine is a gold mine in Colorado. 
It is located at the base of Pike's Peak about 45 miles to the southwest of Colorado Springs. I have been to Pike's Peak, all the way to the top. The view is amazing. 
Gold was discovered here first in 1891 and 500 mines and claims were active during the gold rush. Several mines are still active today.
The Mollie Kathleen mine at Cripple Creek offers a tour where you descend into the earth 1000 feet! 
It is also said that this old mining town is very haunted. There are companies that offer ghost tours or "Ghost Walks" as they call them of the cemetery and the jail house. Wouldn't that be fun?
Photo courtesy
I am interested in Cripple creek because of the byproduct of these gold mines. TURQUOISE! Yes, there's turquoise in them thar hills! 
The Cripple Creek Mine produces a wonder pale blue turquoise that has been prized for many collectors and tourists alike. 
My sweetheart, Cory lived in Cripple Creek for a while as a kid. He still has an old paper cup with a child-sized handful of turquoise that he collected when he lived there. How did he find said turquoise? In the street! When the snow got too deep, they would bring in gravel for the roads. The gravel came from the gold mine and in those tailings would be turquoise. He remembers walking the streets up and down looking for that pale blue that shined through the black gravel. I wonder if they still do that...
I am amazed that he has kept this cup all of these years through all of his travels. 
Some of the turquoise has turned a dark green because turquoise is porous and reacts to environment. 
Now, when I am out searching for the best vintage jewelry, with the best examples of turquoise, Cripple Creek mine turquoise is a specimen that I watch for. 
With vintage turquoise, we can learn all about each mine, but unless we have provenance for a particular piece to prove its origin, we have to attribute characteristics of particular mines to specimens. Often times there is no way to know for sure from where a stone originated. A mine can also have a green vein and a few years later, a blue vein with matrix. It is very difficult to keep up on it all. 
For me, I look for high quality pieces that have good natural color. Any of these pieces could be attributed to the Cripple Creek Mine:
Which is your favorite?
I love studying the characteristics of the stones that were produced from mines years ago. I have collected books and sales catalogs from the past in my quest to learn. 
I will continue to learn...always!
Though I usually use specimens from my private collection for articles, this time the rings above are available on my website. 
You can click the photo which will take you to the ring pictured.