Vintage Blue Diamond Turquoise Squash Blossom
Vintage Blue Diamond Turquoise Squash Blossom necklace from the 1970’s. This stunning necklace features a large naja with Blue Diamond turquoise set in oxidized sterling silver and 10 Blue Diamond stones in the necklace. The necklace is 25″ long. The naja is 4-1/4″ long by 4-1/2″ wide.
Blue Diamond Turquoise
Named for producing some of the hardest turquoise ever found, the Blue Diamond mine is located outside of Austin, Nevada and was first mined in the 1930s. The mine is considered a “hat mine” of which there are very few. A hat mine is a small deposit of turquoise that “you can cover with your hat”. The stones that this mine produces, which are usually large pieces in plate form, look a great deal like Stormy Mountain Turquoise because of its black smoky matrix surrounded by a brilliant blue. The characteristic black chert is present. Long time area miners have been noted to have said the Blue Diamond mine yielded some of the best turquoise in Nevada.
After many years of being closed, today Blue Diamond turquoise is once again being actively mined in limited quantities by the current owner.
History of the Squash Blossom Necklace
“Squash blossom” is a term long been applied to a unique necklace produced by Southwestern Native American Tribes. It was first made by the Navajo and later by the Zuni and Hopi.
The term squash blossom was attached at an early date to the unusual bead, which has a flowering end. The Navajo word “Chil Bitan” means flower-like bead, or more literally translated, “bead which spreads out.”
However, the flower is not believed to be a squash blossom, and really does not resemble one. It is like a young pomegranate. The pomegranate was a symbol ofGranada, Spain, and Spanish and Mexican dandies wore a small silver version of this symbol to decorate their blouses, capes, and trousers.
Navajo Indians may have seen one of these decorations and incorporated it into a plain silver bead necklace. They had already borrowed the Spanish crescent moon and star symbol, which was worn on the horse’s bridle, on the center of the animal’s forehead. Navajo craftsmen simplified this theme, often to a plain crescent; in fact, the Navajo word for this ornament is “nazhahi” – now commonly spelled naja, which means crescent. The naja was first worn with plain silver beads, but later became a part of the distinctive squash blossom necklace.
The squash blossom has been explained in other ways. For example, Mrs. John Wetherill, the wife of an early trader on the Navajo reservation, is said to have contended that this bead was inspired by the tiny flowerets in the center of the common sunflower.
There is a resemblance here, but it is more likely that the young pomegranate, by way of the Spaniards, was the real inspiration for this bead. The term squash blossom will continue to be used as it is so well established.
It is unsure when the squash blossom was first used by the Navajo. On a drawing of a shorter-leafed type, Woodward has the dates 1865-1880, and the dates 1880-1937 for a longer-petaled style. However, when Washington Matthews described Navajo silvercraft in 1881 he makes no mention of this bead type, yet he describes in detail the plain bead and other pieces of this early date. Adair simply notes that the squash blossom “probably did not come into existence until sometime after 1880.”
Early photographs, several dated about 1890, show the squash blossom worn by Navajos. Navajo are the best known, for they have been the most productive of this piece and have maintained a purity of representation which Zunis and Hopis have not observed.
Zuni Indians often expose so little of the flower that it would not appear to be a squash blossom. Hopi Indians have produced relatively few of these necklaces, most of them in the Navajo tradition.
Also, both the Hopis and Zunis have substituted other types of design for the squash blossom so that distinct tribal styles have evolved.