Navajo Jewelry Collection, ca. 1900
Appraised Value: $20,000 - $24,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (2:57)
GUEST: There was a professor at the University of California, and he spent summers with the Indians. He became a member of their tribe and was on their council. Now, they came from him through several inheritances to me. I don't know if the Indians gave him the necklaces or if he bought them, but they did come from the Indians.
APPRAISER: Do you know what tribe made these?
GUEST: I am assuming that it was a Taensa tribe in Southwest United States.
APPRAISER: It is from the Southwest. They are from Arizona. The tribe, however, are the Navajo.
GUEST: Oh, it's a Navajo.
APPRAISER: And this is about as special a group of Navajo jewelry as I've ever seen. Let's just look for a moment at the two necklaces. They're called squash blossom necklaces. These probably date around 1890 to 1900. The device hanging at the bottom of these necklaces are called najas. That design developed in North Africa amongst the Islamic people. It moved from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. By way of Spain, it made its way to Mexico City and eventually up the Santa Fe Trail to Navajo land. It's a great ancient symbol. One of the things I particularly like about these necklaces is every single aspect of them are hand-made. They were made with a cold chisel and a file. If you look at these silver beads, every one is hand-made and soldered together individually. The stones are turquoise, blue and green. What about the bracelets?
GUEST: Well, they came from the same place.
APPRAISER: Same place, and pretty much the same age. This is very heavy silver, ingot silver, hand pounded with a hammer and a chisel, set with turquoise, beautifully stamped. They have rather simple designs, and that's a characteristic of early Navajo silver. One of the things that we see at the Antiques Roadshow at the tribal table more than anything else is Navajo jewelry. We probably have seen hundreds of squash blossom necklaces and thousands of bracelets. I have never seen a more spectacular group of Navajo jewelry than this group that you've brought today.
GUEST: Well, thank you.
APPRAISER: It is simply exquisite. This squash blossom necklace closest to me I think would have a retail value of about $8,000. Oh. The squash blossom necklace nearest you, in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $6,000. This is probably the most beautiful naja I have ever seen. It's simply off the charts. The same can be said about these bracelets. It's a spectacular sense of design and quality. These bracelets on a retail market value, about $2,000 to $3,000 apiece.
APPRAISER: They are simply as good as it gets.
GUEST: Well, I am amazed. I had no idea it would be that much.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.