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by Halley Sanford October 31, 2021 3 min read

Southwestern jewelry is stunning in every sense, every form, every stage. We hold an appreciation for the contemporary creations of Jock Favour and Federico Jimenez just as we do the vintage pieces of Kirk Smith or Oscar Betz and even the antique pieces of Hudson Bay trade jewelry. From classic cluster work to statement squash blossoms to battery birds and petrified agate, there is a unique beauty to it all.

With nugget necklaces, for us the appreciation is two-fold: for starters, there is just an awe-inspiring element to the raw beauty of freeform turquoise nuggets; and they’re perfect pieces for layering.

“I absolutely love a nugget necklace layered with a more elaborate, curated piece, like a traditional squash blossom,” Cheryl said. “There is that unique 3D element of a turquoise tab necklace that lends a dimensionality to your accessorizing. I also think it looks great paired with something simple and chic, like one of those leather strap necklaces with a singular pendant, like Jock’s dragonfly. I really appreciate the diversity that a nugget necklace brings to a look.”

While nugget necklaces (as we’ve taken to calling them) are all slightly unique in nature – they are freeform turquoise, after all – they do tend to follow a design pattern of turquoise slabs spaced with tiny shell heishi beads.

“That’s another thing that makes them so layerable,” Cheryl explained. “While they’re each different, they’re mostly in a similar motif or theme, so they work well together aesthetically. You can blend different shades of turquoise and different sizes and spacings of nuggets for a variety of looks with just a collection of three or four necklaces.”

So, what is it that Cheryl herself looks for in a nugget necklace?

“Well, of course the turquoise is what draws me in,” she laughed. “Really substantial chunks or, on the flipside, really thin and dainty slabs, I always find that visually interesting. But when I’m trying to gauge age or authenticity, I look for traditional wrap or sinew tie closure; that tends to indicate it’s an older piece, but not always, so that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s something I look for. Sometimes very vintage pieces have been updated with silver clasps because the cord has worn through or just for ease of wear, but I do appreciate a traditional wrap when I can find them.”

In addition to layering them with other statement pieces, we got Cheryl to admit another favorite way of styling.

“I knew you were going to call me out on this!” she laughed. “Yes, I was particularly pleased with this lay-down shot on the ledger art bag. I am really, really fond of that bag – it’s one Audrey had to convince me to part with – and I think it made for a beautiful backdrop for the necklaces; I was proud of this staging. I know I have a unique appreciation for this kind of artifact, – the ledger art is still so vibrant, the subtle beadwork, and all the old school tin cone dangles – this is a conversation-starter, and that’s my favorite thing about any piece.”

Ok, well now we’re torn – whether we’re more in need of a nugget necklace or this bag! (Both… the answer is always both.)


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