Historic Revival Jewelry

Bethany in New York City wants to know about our new ”Historic Revival” series?

There are many talented contemporary Native artists that have revived the old methods of silversmithing, beadwork, and textile works that have been in their families for generations.  We have carefully chosen to represent a number of these talented individuals in support of Native Artists throughout the Southwest and Western United States.  We carefully curate their works into our “Historic Revival” series by introducing their talents and skills to our clients and collectors.  This genre of jewelry is currently made using the old ways, heavy silver, sterling or ingot.  The turquoise comes from the highest quality domestic mines and from old collections we have sourced over the years.  We only use natural domestic stones and never stabilized or treated turquoise.  Our silversmiths families have been making jewelry for generations, using many tools and stamps that have been in their families for decades.  Their biographies can be found on our website, on the Meet the  Native Artist page.  We also understand that not all collectors can afford the very rare and costly vintage pieces.  By providing the marketplace with the highest quality, affordable contemporary Native made jewelry based on vintage designs and methods, we can help most everyone get a fabulous piece of Southwest art.  We look to grow our offering and representation of Native artists and fill a need within the marketplace.  Thanks for asking, Bethany!


What is “vintage” jewelry?

I am often asked by clients and friends about the terms“vintage jewelry” in regards to our collections, so I wanted to clarify the terminology in this blog post.  There are many definitions of vintage jewelry including pieces from an estate of a deceased person, or an antique from many years ago.  The term vintage is often thrown around and used quite loosely by the trade.  In the clothing business vintage could be an item only 20 years old.  At Chipeta Trading we think of Vintage Jewelry as pieces that have been made between 70 and 140 years ago.  Occasionally will interchange the terms Vintage with Historic since our inventories of older pieces date as early as the 1880’s.  This would place our use of these terms on pieces of Navajo and Pueblo jewelry made between 1880 and 1950’s.  From the 1960’s, forward we consider the pieces to be contemporary works or art, many of which are highly collectable and quite beautiful when made by a named artist!   Soon, Chipeta Trading will be offering our clients a new line of “historic revival”  jewelry which will include native made pieces created in the old styles using old tools and methods by currently living arts such as Greg Lewis, Laguna Pueblo; Fritson Toledo, Navajo and many other talented native artists of the Southwest.  These high quality, collectable, silver and turquoise, contemporary pieces will be perfect for the collector who would like to begin their collection of native jewelry at a more affordable entry than the vintage pieces that command top dollar.  Watch for this new category of material on our website over the next few days as items begin to arrive.  We appreciate your comments and suggestions!  Please feel free to share your thoughts will us via email to don@chipetatrading.com



Whats the difference between natural and stabilized turquoise?

Sandra in Arizona wants to know, “What’s the difference between stabilized and natural turquoise?”  Before we begin it’s important to know a couple of important facts about turquoise: turquoise is a relatively soft and porous stone with approximately 10% of the turquoise mined being able to be called “gem quality” and suitable for use in high quality jewelry.  The mining of turquoise can be a difficult and a laborious process!  Only high grade gem quality turquoise is hard enough to be worked with, shaped and created into jewelry without breaking.  This is why natural turquoise from the historic period (1890-1940) is so much more expensive than turquoise  processed in the mid-late 20th century.  In Arizona during the 1950’s, the process of stabilization was created to increase the usefulness and yield of non-gem quality turquoise stones in the making of Southwest jewelry.  This process including putting the stones under extreme pressure, causing it to absorb the epoxy or plastic fillers that were added to create hardness while filling in cracks and imperfections.  Stabilized turquoise is not a bad product as it is harder and less likely to break or crack.  Because the stone is no longer porous, it will not oxidize over time and will retain its color when you purchased it.  Just remember that stabilized turquoise should be much less expensive than gem-quality pieces with natural stones that have been altered.  Stabilized turquoise is not fake turquoise, just stones that have been treated enough to be shaped and worked with!  Later, reconstituted or chalk processes were also created to take fragments of turquoise and their crushed powder forms, which is then mixed with plastics to make harder blocks that can be cut into stones shapes. Dyed plastics were also used that contained no turquoise at all, to create an imitation turquoise.  (Chipeta Trading does not sell this form, or do we recommend our clients purchase this type of product!)  So how do you tell the difference?  Natural or raw stones have imperfections, cracks and occlusions that do not appear in treated or stabilized turquoise.  At Chipeta Trading, we focus on this type of stone.  Of course the key to protecting your investment is to buy from a reputable dealer you can trust and work with and guarantees the quality of their products 100%!   For more information please contact us at Don@chipetatrading.com or call us at 303-807-1567.


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