Old Pawn jewelry—these turquoise treasures are well known in the southwest part of the U.S. This Native American jewelry has more history than meets the eye. Read on to find out how to identify Old Pawn jewelry.
History of Old Pawn Jewelry
Old Pawn jewelry gets its name from its history. Starting in the early 1900s, pawning jewelry was a common practice between Native Americans and traders. Native Americans pawned jewelry in times of need, meaning most pieces were family heirlooms containing valuable turquoise and silver. Jewelry was a way for Native Americans to carry their wealth with them and have financial support in times of need.
How to Identify Old Pawn Jewelry
Turquoise is the most common stone found in Old Pawn jewelry. Natural turquoise is porous and will change to a greener color, so it isn’t uncommon for authentic pieces to have discolored stones.
Older jewelry pieces will be heavy, as they contain a high amount of silver. This commonality in Navajo jewelry is easy to spot in person. Newer Old Pawn jewelry will be lighter and may not contain as much silver as their older counterparts.
Craftsmanship and Design
Authentic Old Pawn jewelry features complex construction, intricate designs, and large turquoise stones. Pieces from circa 1945 will not have owners’ initials or makers’ marks, which is why it’s important to pay attention to other clues to indicate authenticity.
Wear and Tear
Authentic Old Pawn jewelry will have a natural gray patina, indicating age. It takes decades for the patina to develop and may appear grayer in dry climates like the southwest. Humidity will add a darker, blacker patina. Patina typically isn’t buffed off in order to preserve its history and value.
Keep Your Old Pawn Jewelry Safe
When you’re done identifying your old pawn jewelry, store it with us! We’re SecurCare Self Storage, the storage experts! We have storage units that are safe for all your collectibles and whatever else you may need to store. Our units are clean and secure, too, with on-site managers and 24/7 security cameras. If you have questions, you can chat with a friendly manager online anytime.
If you plan on purchasing an Old Pawn jewelry item, we recommend working with a trusted seller. Buyer beware—not only are investment pieces prevalent, but they’re easy to produce. Interested in other collectible items? Learn more about antiques with these blogs: