Thursday, May 4, 2006

Skystone and Silver

Throughout my life I have found silver and turquoise an altogether irresistible temptation. I have often considered how I acquired this addiction and, after careful consideration, have come to place the blame squarely upon my upbringing. I know many psychologists will scoff at my weak-minded, emotionally encumbered psyche for faulting my early childhood experiences. No matter. I am certain I have chosen the correct source of my infatuation and accept the consequences.

Turquoise from Twin Rocks Trading Post

As a barefoot and fairly innocent youth, I recall stumbling through the sagebrush, goatheads and tumbleweeds of Bluff on my way to, "Payday at the post office". As children, my siblings and I eagerly awaited the monthly parade of Navajo and Ute people collecting their cash allotments, and reveled in the festive mood associated with it. Back then, on the first of each month our small town would swell in population and the local merchants enjoyed a brisk, but short lived increase in trade. Checks were cashed, and the trickle down effect would, well . . . trickle down.

Darkened pawn vaults were flung open and the treasures within spilled forth into the bright, reflective light of day. Striking beads of skystone were returned to their rightful place on velveteen blouses. Bracelets of turquoise stones clustered in teardrop shapes were once again proudly displayed on copper colored wrists aged by weather and time. Large, hand-stamped, conch shaped medallions worn to a soft, satiny luster on antique leather belts adorned Wrangler jeans. Also displayed on the traditional clothing of the Navajo people were silver dollars and coins of lesser denomination surrounded by droplets of intense blue turquoise. Hand fabricated jewelry dapped, domed and soldered represented the short lived wealth and day to day lifestyle of "The People". Their brilliant white smiles, flashing black eyes, and textured brown skin deeply affected by the elements and skystone and silver captivated me. It is no wonder I became enamored with the precious stones and hammered metal decorating these native people.

As time went on, my interests became more cosmopolitan; I was dazzled by the scintillating brilliance of diamonds and the wide range of magnificently colored gemstones. I studied with the Gemological Institute of America and became familiar with color, cut and carat weight. The subtleties of gemstone identification fascinated me, and before long I became a Graduate Gemologist. In spite of my love for the Southwest, there was a time when I nearly left it and headed for the bright lights of the city to practice my new vocation. The more I came to know diamonds and precious stones, the less interest I had in them. For me, they just did not have the earthy character of turquoise. I quickly realized I did not conform to the restrictive nature of the fine jewelry world. My mineralogical first love inevitably overwhelmed me, and turquoise returned to the top of my list of precious stone preferences.

The lessons I learned in gemology have, however, proven beneficial in the Indian arts and crafts business. When I finally realized I truly belong among the red rock cliffs and yucca plants, I put what I had learned in the gemological world to use judging the authenticity of gem grade turquoise. There is nothing more exciting, (Remember we are talking about gems here, so lets keep things in perspective), than a stone with a pure black, spider web matrix pattern surrounding islands of intense blue color, or a lime green patchwork quilt pattern with reddish brown webbing.

People often ask me what type of turquoise I love the most; I find it difficult to say. It is like choosing my favorite child, they all have their unique and varied appeal, and I love them equally. Steve, on the other hand, has determined that I am, "A turquoise snob," and claims there is no one more particular, peculiar and opinionated about fine quality turquoise than I. All I will say is that Steve has a plateful of his own twisted idiosyncrasies which we will refrain from discussing. Turquoise snob, my bucket!

The Navajo people believe turquoise is a gift from the Gods; pieces of the sky sent down to remind earthlings that there are more dimensions to this world than we might imagine, and higher levels of consciousness to achieve. I find that a nice thought to contemplate, and love turquoise as a true treasure to wear and appreciate. As for me, I accept my place and preferences in life, and count myself blessed with the choices I have made.

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

Copyright 2006 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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