Monday, August 8, 2011

SOUTHWESTERN FLAIR -- Dress Up or Dress Down !

A Southwestern style or a Southwestern type of jewelry leaves one wide open when designing necklaces and auxiliary pieces such as earrings, bracelets, belt buckles, and hat pins. Depending on the tribe, loction, availability of stones as well as silver or other metals that ae used, one sees many styles and types of Southwestern Jewelry.

In this particular design, Turquoise rounds, Coral beads, and Silver plated highlights are connected together in a double strand 18 inch necklace. A Silver plated diamond shapped Turqouise colored Howlite and Coral inlay pendant are the focal point of the necklace.

Silver plated French Hook earrings with Turquoise and Coral beads and a Silver plated highlight complete the set.

Turquoise comes in many colors and types in today's market. To help understand a bit, the following is provided----
Natural - This comes directly from the mine. It is cut shaped and polished and set into jewelry. It has no man made treatment or additives other than a polishing compound that adds to its luster. Several pieces of natural Turquoise from Arizona, can be seen to the right and are beautiful with very little polishing. Most stones in this state are very close to gem quality. The coloration of natural Turquoise can darken as oils from the skin work its way into the stone over the years, especially of not properly cleaned.
Stabilized – This is a natural turquoise usually in nugget form, but does not hold a luster. It is submerged into a stabilizing compound and dried, cut and prepared for jewelry. The turquoise has not been altered. The pores of the stone have been filled with a clear resin that makes the stone usable. This process allows for diversity of shapes and possibilities in jewelry making. Color Stabilized stones are considered altered and sometimes color has been added in this process. This in not necessarily bad, but it has less value than a piece that is naturally colored. Stabilized Turquoise usually does not change color with wear and because of its hardness, wears better in jewelry.
Treated - This form of color enhancement has been used for thousands of years. It is done as discussed earlier by submerging Turquoise stones into animal fat or vegetable oil and later air dried. Normally the color will not last very long. A new variety on the market, called "Motaska" and "Majave" Stone is much more stable and retains its color as well as being infused with gold, silver and copper.
Fake and Synthetic – Ceramics, bone, celluloid and plastic are used to imitate turquoise. Synthetic turquoise has a very natural matrix that is produced by placing stones in the synthetic “batter”.
Imatations - Then there are the imatations, in many cases natural gemstones that are beautiful in their own right, but due to the fact they accept dyes, many times are dyed the various turquoise colors and then are sold by unscrupulous dealers as real Turquoise. Price becomes the real determining factor when it comes to seperating real Turquoise from dyed Howlite, Magnesite or Ivoryite.

Red Coral is a calcium carbonate (+magnesia+organic substance) found naturally in the Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Japan, Canary Isles and the Bay of Biscay. The most valuable of the varieties from these locations is red Coral. Only the calcified external skeleton of this sea creature (genus Corallium) is used in jewelry. Coral has been highly prized, worn in jewelry and used as an amulet or talisman since before the time of Egypt. Coral is one of the few Organic gemstones. All Corals except for the man-grown and harvested Sponge Coral, is being considered for addition to the endangered species listings.

Howlite, named for its discoverer Henry How, who found it in Tick Canyon, California in 1868. Howlite is one of those minerals that is more famous for imitating another mineral than being used for itself. In most cases the other mineral is Turquoise, a phosphate gemstone. Although natural Howlite is always white or gray, it can accept dyes fairly easily and be dyed a turquoise blue. The look of turquoise is so good that dishonest dealers have been unfortunately successful at this hoax. In more honest circumstances, dyed howlite is an affordable substitute for turquoise carvings, beads, polished stones and cabochons. It accepts a nice polish and its porcelaneous luster is attractive and enhances even undyed beads and carvings. Unfortunately it has low hardness, but it still has a distinct toughness. California is the source for most all of the howlite trade where nodules of up to one hundred pounds have been found. In addition to the famous turquoise color Howlite is dyed, it also can become a very bright red color to mimic red coral, or any other color in the rainbow.