by Paige Callaway (Pursue Victory)
It doesn’t take a baker to know the icing on the cake can change the dessert. Much like it doesn’t take a fashion stylist to know that accessories can have the same impact. Jewelry, shoes, bags or scarves are all ways to translate classic garments into numerous different looks. For sake of time and keeping the theme reader friendly, lets stick with the topic of jewelry this month!
In the western world the term jewelry often is synonymous with turquoise. From strands of turquoise chips to beautiful antique squash blossoms, turquoise has been staple for many years. This tie between western fashion and turquoise was derived from the Native Americans who wore turquoise for numerous special occasions, including battle.
I have acquired my education on this stone from a variety of sources. One, a turquoise dealer in South Dakota and the other a collector from New Mexico. Both who confidently discuss the power of the turquoise stone to protect people. These people told me situations they have witnessed where the stone had coincidentally been present during these rare situations. I learned about a car accident where a person miraculously survived a semi hitting their car, yet their turquoise stone in their ring was shattered. Or a lady who recovered from cancer that was in the late stages, yet the stones in her squash blossom were all cracked. Just as the turquoise stone is believed to protect, other stones also have their own tales.
Turquoise is always in style; the way in which people wear it fluctuates as trends do. These days longer necklaces in many variations are quite popular, sometimes adorn with a unique pendant or worn in multiples. The longer style necklace is seen in a variety of colors and styles, not just turquoise. There are some very cool handmade unique pieces at Willow Creek Design out of Texas, or for a simple single strand necklace making it yourself isn’t out of the question.
Also, seen lots these days are squash blossom necklaces. The turquoise squash seems to be the most popular, however they are found with all types of stones from jet (a black stone) to mother of pearl and of course coral. There are many theories behind the squash blossom, as to where it originated and the meaning behind it. The most common theme is that it represents abundance. It is said the squash blossom symbolizes an abundance of food commonly present after a rainfall.
The squash blossom does originate in the southwest so if your looking to add one to your collection, that’s generally the best place to start. I have had success at flea markets, small town pawnshops and local jewelry dealers. They range in price pending stones, age and size.
There is a jewelry maker in Canada who has been making some really unique pieces of jewelry that can be hung on long and short necklaces as well as customized for the client. Designs by Shelagh started making customized bales with feathers or various additions hanging from them. Her classy and simplistic work is an addition to anyone’s outfit. Shelagh also has the buffalo nickel ring that is perhaps my favorite piece of jewelry I own.
It has become a bit of a habit for me, regardless of whether I am dressed up or more casual, that my go to accessory is rings. I have a nice collection of large rings from various places I have traveled that I enjoy wearing. It’s a very simplistic way to accessorize.
It is hard to say which I love more, finding a beautiful piece of jewelry or bartering with someone to get a steal of a deal on it. Nearly every turquoise dealer is open to some bartering so here are some recommendations that have gotten me stellar deals on some of my fav gems. Before you get discussing the price, get a feel for the urgency of the sale on their part. The end of a trade show, closing store and being over stocked are all good cues that they are ready to make a deal. Try the piece of jewelry on, make sure it fits and this also gives you a chance to evaluate the quality. Now this part is key . . . ask for the price, let them answer and then give it back. The reaction of the seller will really dictate where you start your offer. When you return the piece, most sellers see that move as a ‘no sale’ and they will come to the table to make a deal. Also in the rules, do not barter with someone the artist who made the jewelry, unless they are clearly willing to so. It can be offensive to their work. These tactics work best on antique jewelry sold by turquoise dealers, pawnshops and flea markets. Play a hard game and have fun with it!
It would be a shame to discuss jewelry and not bring up the legendary designer known for her eclectic style, Iris Apfel. This young, 92 year old, New Yorker spent much of her design career working on interiors for notorious accounts such as the White House. Though she specialized in interior design, she also has a line of jewelry that follows suit with her style. Apfel is known for both her large round glasses and her sheer quantity of jewelry she confidently wears. There is a great documentary on Netflix about The Apfel’s that I highly recommend. Its called ‘Iris’ and it will give you a good insight on her life. The polar opposite to Coco Chanels advice on removing one accessory before leaving the house, Apfel encourages people by saying, “more is more and less is a bore!”
Though I am not endorsing that point of view, I do admire Apfel for her style, outlook on life and zero worry of others opinions. I do fully agree with Apfel when she said, “ I say, dress to please yourself. Listen to your inner muse and take a chance. Wear something that says ‘Here I am today.”