This Didn't Come Out of the Ocean ... It Was Mined! But Where?

The seller’s listing called this “Spiny Oyster.” Which is probably why I couldn’t stop thinking about it after looking at it, and went back and looked really hard at it, and decided I liked it enough to buy it.

It’s a substantial piece, heavy in the hand. It’s unmarked except for “STERLING” in capital letters.

Only part of it looks like the Navajo & Zuni jewelry that my mother was selling in the saddlery shop in the 1970s –
that’s the piece with the stones in it. Nothing in the shop had this bold, winglike design which looks like an optical illusion and reminds me of Art Deco architectural features. So what period is it from?

I know it’s not spiny oyster, I think it’s spiderweb, right? The matrix is black. Any guesses about the mine?

Did I pay about market value in the range of $250-$275, or did I overpay for my thrill of correcting a misidentification?


Hello, you are right. This is definitely not spiny oyster shell. It is turquoise, and really good looking turquoise. It is hard to determine a mine from this size of stone. I would say you did good at $250. Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for your assessment, Jason.

I’m surprised by what I remember from handling the jewelry in that shop where my mother worked in the 1970s. This was during the Native American jewelry craze. There were three big showcases in the saddlery shop. Every night, whoever closed the shop had to remove all of the jewelry, bag it up, and give it to the owner to secure. If I was there, I helped bag it up. A few times, when my mother worked a full day, the jewelry spent the night at our house instead of the owner’s house. I was just a kid: That was a thrill, to handle it and try on the big squash blossoms.

Whatever I saw then became my standard for this jewelry. That means in recent years, when I started looking at this jewelry at antique shows & in shops & on eBay, I was ignorant of anything made before the 1960s-1970s – for instance I didn’t know anything about the Fred Harvey Era – and also anything made from the 1980s up until the present. I am always looking & learning.

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Greetings Saef. Very nice find. I can relate to your story. I grew up with a Mum who had a small New England Antique Store. Nothing crazy, but a wonderland to a kid. Her main Native buy/sell was Navajo Rugs, mainly saddle blankets. I learned so much, saw so much, & gained appreciations for well made items from Americas past. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading your experiences.