This is an extraordinary vintage necklace dating from the 1940s to 1950s. It's truly a beautiful example of traditional Navajo artisanry.
Despite a rich tradition of adornment, the Navajo did not learn the art of silversmithing until the mid 19th century.
The first known Navajo silversmith was Atsidi Sani who learned from Mexican smiths in the New Mexico territory around 1850.
The crescent-shaped pendant, or "naja", that immediately catches the eye has roots deep in Spanish culture.
The pendant replicates the shape of what Native Americans would have seen on Conquistador's horse bridles in the 16th and 17th centuries. Captured or traded, the emblems were soon acquired by the locals and worn during ceremonies.
The substantial naja on this necklace is nicely sized measuring 3" tall and has been created using the centuries-old technique of sand-casting.
It is rendered in (we're calling "nickel') silver and shines beautifully. The silver used for the creation of necklaces from this era was typically of a lesser purity than .925.
As you can see, the naja hangs on a long strand of alternating cone and round beads rendered silver. These are not sterling silver, but slightly less pure; this is typical of jewelry of the era.
The overall look of the necklace is made all the more dramatic by the rich patina it has garnered over the years.
The necklace joins with a simple hook and loop clasp but can be easily slipped over the head. There are some very small spots of glue on the tops of the beads nearest the hook and loop on each side.
Overall, the necklace remains in excellent vintage condition.
With its almost supernatural beauty and symbolism, this remarkable piece of Native American jewelry is truly a work of art, and a collector's dream.
Measurements: Silver bead strand measures 29", naja pendant measures 2 5/8" wide, 2 ¾" long and approx. 4mm thick Weight: 61.52 grams (2.17 oz.)