We’ve sold a dozen squash blossom necklaces in the past six months. They’ve sold for a range of prices from $40 to $1,900, with a majority of the recent squash blossoms selling for between $650 and $900.
Why is there such a huge price discrepancy between the value of the pieces?
Like most things, the authenticity, quality, and condition of a squash blossom necklace make a huge difference in its value.
What is a squash blossom?
Squash blossom necklaces were first created by Navajo artisans in the late 1800s. Turquoise was added to the necklaces in the 1880s and became more popular over the decades. Some artisans also use coral in their squash blossoms.
The beautiful necklace typically consists of a string of plain, round sterling silver beads, interspersed with more ornate beads that resemble squash blossoms or pomegranates, depending on who you ask. At the bottom of the necklace is a crescent shape pendant known as the naja.
How can you identify whether your squash blossom could be valuable?
- Use a magnet. Most authentic squash blossoms are made with sterling silver. A magnet will not stick to sterling silver like it will to a silver-plated necklace. The last silver-plated squash blossom we sold went for only $40. Sterling silver versions can easily sell for 10 to 50 times as much.
- Check the back. Turn the squash blossom necklace over and search for an engraved signature or hallmark on the back. This can tell you which artisan created the piece. Squash blossoms by well-known Native American artists tend to be more valuable.
- Search for signs of wear. While you want a squash blossom that is in good condition, it’s unlikely a necklace has been through 50 to 100 plus years of existence without showing some signs of wear. In general, older squash blossoms sell for more. If a necklace is from the 19th century, especially, you should expect to see some scuffing, scratching or overall tarnish.
- Scratch the turquoise. Whether or not the turquoise in your squash blossom is real will have a huge impact on the value of the necklace. There are a few clues to whether the turquoise is real or fake.
First, real turquoise is hard and will not scratch easily. Counterfeit versions are usually easy to scratch.
Second, turquoise is rarely uniform in color. Are there veins of different colors running through your stones? If so, it’s more likely to be real.
Third, when you run your fingernail over the top of the stone, you should feel some bumps and crevices. A completely smooth stone is likely a fake.
Finally, adding some fingernail polish remover to a cotton swab and running it over a discreet part of the stone can help. If the swab is clean after rubbing it over the stone, it’s likely real. If any of the coloring comes off on the swab, the stone is most likely fake, and you have removed some of the dye.
If you’re interested in learning more about your squash blossom necklace, consider taking it to a certified appraiser for an appraisal of its quality and value.
Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ejsauction.com or 623-878-2003.