The Squash Blossom Necklace is a Native American Indian Classic
If you live in–or have the pleasure of visiting — America’s Southwest, you will undoubtedly encounter Native American turquoise jewelry. If any of those things are true for you, then I predict you will fall in love with the Squash Blossom Necklace.
What is a squash blossom necklace?
Native American Indians create jewelry that has a certain look. Designs are typically made with turquoise and silver. Turquoise cabochons that are bezel-set in silver make it into bracelets, conchos, earrings, and necklaces.
A necklace fashioned with certain elements of a squash plant flower is a Squash Blossom Necklace. Whether the necklace resembles the flower is in the eye of the beholder. See a photo comparison here and decide for yourself.
The naja, a Navajo word meaning ‘crescent,’ is an incomplete circle serving as a pendant in the necklace. The curved, open design may have been influenced by the horse bridles of Spaniards who occupied the Southwest, who in turn might have been influenced by early Moorish designs. It is important to note that the open pendant is not the ‘squash blossom’ part of the design.
The squash blossom comes in on the necklace part of the necklace, specifically in the beads that make up the rest of the piece. The ‘bead’ is turquoise, more correctly described as a turquoise cabochon (or cab) in a bezel setting.
Soldered onto one side of each cab are three separate pieces of silver, serving as the petals of the blossom. This is where creativity enters the design of each ‘blossom’ bead. The silver petals may be small or long and thin, wispy or substantial, but always three silver petals will emanate from each turquoise bead.
Completing the blossom on the opposite side is a shank. The shank is drilled, forming a hole through which the blossom beads are strung to form a necklace. Often, the blossom bead has no shank, the hole for stringing being drilled right through the turquoise bead or cab.
No squash blossom necklace is like any other. Every squash blossom necklace is unique and made by hand by a Native American Indian of Navajo, Zuni, or Pueblo descent.
Sterling silver is the precious metal of choice. The finished jewelry is usually stamped as such (with ‘925’ or ‘sterling’) including the initials of the artist. When buying such a piece, be sure to ask what the initials stand for, so that you know the full name of the Native American creator of your splendid Squash Blossom Necklace.
Article by Lorrain Yapps Cohen