Long before Natives learned how to fabricate silver or other metals, wearing turquoise jewelry was a sign of status and wealth, as shown in antique photographs. This necklace is an evolved form of that tradition.
In the past the turquoise and shell would have been in rough, irregular lumps, rather than formed into these smooth, perfectly graduated disks.
Separating each hand-cut turquoise disk is a tiny bead of baby olive shell, which produces an attractive, textural “slinky” effect.
Many Santo Domingo artists produce versions of heishi, or beads of shell and stones. Joe Pacheco, however, is one of the dwindling few who still cuts all his own disks and heishi (shell beads).
Using stabilized turquoise, which is natural turquoise – Royston, probably, in this instance – hardened by filling the pores with polyurethane, is now considered completely acceptable.
To find a large enough quantity of natural turquoise, hard enough to cut up, is just about impossible in this day and age, and formidably expensive if found.
This outstanding necklace is handsome on its own, and will be just as attention-getting when layered with other, compatible, necklaces.
With its variegated coloration and imposing size, this necklace is a modern-day heirloom that is fabulous to wear now, and often.