There are so many angles to collection Southwestern jewelry.
Some collect by tribe. Collectiing Zuni work is very popular.
Other collectors build a collection around a single artist or a group of favorite artists.
One can collect by item style or type. One gal that I know only buys rings and they have to be her size.
Some collect according to silver-work techniques and some collect by time period collecting only the earliest pieces.
There are collectors that buy only Fred Harvey pieces, train station pieces and some collect only pawn.
Many collectors just buy what they like and wear it.
Then there's me. I collect by turquoise mine. I am always looking for the rare and unusual stones and I love to find pieces that I cannot attribute to a known mine.
The thing about turquoise mines is that it is almost impossible to know where a stone came from unless you were there when it was found or if you have documentation. Some mines produce stones that have traditional characteristics and it is pretty easy to spot those pieces. But, a single mine can produce very different stones with different matrix patterns and colors.
Over the years, mines changed hands and names as they were bought and sold. One must keep track of this as well to properly identify a particular mine that produced a type of stone.
Turquoise, in natural form can turn green with age and exposure to air, skin oils and chemicals. One must be able to tell if a stone is naturally green or one that has turned green.
It is important to read every book that you can find about turquoise if you are going to collect for investment. It is also very advantageous to talk to the artists who are creating jewelry in the Southwest for they know so much about turquoise. I met a Navajo artist that collected the mass-produced 1970s pieces just to harvest rare turquoise and red coral from these pieces.
Collecting is fun, but in the end, it's best to buy pieces that you love and enjoy wearing.
October 01, 2015
Very interesting! I have always loved turquoise but never knew much about it!