I’m offering the internet community something that no one else on planet earth usually offers: quick casual verbal appraisals of Old Pawn Native American made jewelry, in order to help educate customers and new collectors alike about what’s out there and where the values really are. Unfortunately, by the time some folks find me they often will have already over-paid for an item on Ebay, at a flea market, pawn shop or other location which sells Old Pawn. It happens all the time. But if you are armed with some basic information, hopefully it won’t happen to you.
Just remember that for every ‘original anything’ which is made on earth, which has real collector value, someone somewhere is out creating faked copies of it to sell for a quick profit, and this is also true of Old Pawn as well.
Should a collector take my ‘quick verbal appraisal’ as a good starting point for insurance purposes? Sure. That would be fine. But keep in mind the following guidelines in assessing the value of your piece:
Condition, condition, condition – ‘Pristine’ is the most coveted level of condition and it slides downward from there. Chipped and cracked gems destroy a piece’s value, as do serious tears in the sawtooth or other bezel work which holds gems in place.
Sterling silver is preferable to ‘coin silver’ or any other non-silver alloy. I won’t even appraise Old Pawn jewelry made with ‘Nickel Silver’ as there IS NO SILVER in ‘nickel silver.’ Just don’t buy it. Period. Unless you intend to regard the piece as costume jewelry, which is what nickel silver is – costume jewelry.
Real Hallmark or lack thereof – Native American hallmarks are so important there are entire websites dedicated to their archiving, recording and discussion. I recommend collectors explore http://www.art-amerindien.com/signature_bijoux_amerindiens.htm
Rarity of gemstones, condition of same, uniqueness of gems etc. – As I have explained in other pages on this site, REAL earth-mined ALL NATURAL turquoise is rapidly disappearing into private collections and is increasingly hard to come by these days. Old Pawn jewelry with REAL all natural gemstones is highly preferable to jewelry with BLOCK or composite gems, but – that having been said… there are some nice authentic pieces where block has been used. I take everything on a piece-by-piece basis when I look at these items.
Style Design, Designer Name and Rendering Details – This is the most important aspect of assessing the ‘value’ of a piece. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I could write an entire website on what is considered “beautiful” when it comes to Old Pawn. But certain pieces will always stand out, as every item on the checklist has been achieved by the designer and the design and execution of the item itself is superlative. You always know these pieces when you see them as they immediately elicit the ‘WOW’ effect right away. These pieces will sell almost immediately if offered. These creme-de-la-creme pieces are the rare and sought after items where everything converges to make a stellar collector find.
Below are examples of several recent casual verbal appraisals from submitted photos. Market conditions for Old Pawn jewelry change from season to season and any verbal appraisal I offer is just a snapshot in time for that particular piece. Nothing is cast in stone. However, the trend in pricing for these rare collectibles is UP rather than DOWN, and this seems not to be too connected to fluctuations in silver prices. If you don’t need to sell your collectible jewelry, hang onto it and it will appreciate even more in value over time. Rare items also become more scarce as they disappear into collections and depleted “mined-out” gem mines close in North America. Just some thoughts to consider.
Re: I got your photos of the cuff
Bill your cuff is authentic and is quite old. The gems in it are all real and most likely are a combination of Fox and Sleeping Beauty turquoise from Arizona. It’s most likely Zuni made. I could not see the hallmark. If this cuff was in my collection I’d ask about $365 for it right now. With silver trading at $35 in the future I’d adjust that to $435.00, give or take.
Most collectors actually prefer the darkened all natural aged patina which your cuff shows, so I don’t recommend you clean it. I would date the cuff somewhere between 1940s and 60s. The gems are in good shape. This is all I can tell from your photos.
“Leigh, Your reputation does not do justice to you. You are a rare
person. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Linda and I have always
helped and shared our experience with fellow tradespeople. It does not happen that often. It has always been rewarded by the same in kind.
It is a small crazed world we live in, and your generosity is a breath of fresh air and a ray of hope for human kind.
— Howard from Laguna Woods, California”
Thank you so much for your time and sharing of your expertise. I’m very happy to hear that they are of the quality that my dad always thought they were. I know he was very very fond of the pieces. I don’t plan on selling them anytime soon as I would really love to actually wear the bracelet. I won’t have much need for the belt buckle but I will keep them together as a set as you suggest. Thank you again for your time I greatly appreciate it.
– Vicki H.”
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