Defining Some of The “Impostors”
SilverTQ, LLC often receives questions concerning how to properly identify and distinguish the White Buffalo stone from similar looking stones such as Magnesite, Wild horse, Crazy horse or Howlite. What details can one look for that sets the White Buffalo stone apart from others? Wild Horse and Crazy Horse stones are the same, just two different names. They are in fact composed of magnesite from southern Arizona near the Globe copper mines, and contain some hematite that gives its distinctive colors. Consequently, this stone can technically be referred to as either Wild Horse Magnesite or Crazy Horse Magnesite.
Magnesite is magnesium carbonate, and found in veins in ultramafic rocks such as serpentine and other magnesium rich rocks. The color is milk white to pale yellow with brown and sometimes black inclusions. The colors are generally more swirled in pattern as opposed to the White Buffalo having more distinct division of colors. The color of the Wild Horse or Crazy Horse stones distinguish it from the other colors of Magnesite.
Magnesite, Wild Horse or Crazy Horse have no copper for blue or iron for green coloring. Their white coloring is more of a milky or creamy white. The color of their matrix is of varying shades of brown from dark to light from the host rock. The borders of white to color are often less defined, tending to be more mottled than that of White Buffalo. These stones are often dyed different colors and can at times be quite confusing to recognize.
What Is White Buffalo?
The White Buffalo stone originates from the Tonopah Nevada area found in the same general veins as Dry Creek turquoise but has no copper content. Considering this fact, it should therefore not be called “white turquoise” as it does not have the same chemical composition as turquoise, which is a copper phosphate. There is no copper to cause blue color or iron to cause green color. It is a mostly clean white calcite/quartz mix with black chert inclusions (matrix) that are more sharply defined as opposed to being smutty. The better stones have clear delineations of black and white.
How About Howlite?
Howlite is a cream white calcium borosilicate hydroxide with more of grey erratic veining and is often represented as White Buffalo. The grey matrix is, however, a differentiating marker that makes it a different stone. Howlite is porous and easily absorbs dyes to imitate other more costly stones like turquoise, coral and even lapis. This stone when dyed can be confusing to recognize. Howlite has a marble like look and does not generally have as high a shine as white buffalo.
The Long History of Turquoise
Turquoise stones have a long association with Native American Indians. Originally called the Turkish stone by the crusaders, turquoise was long used and mined in China and Tibet. It has also been associated with the Anasazi American Indians from thousands of years ago to today’s Native American Indians. Turquoise was also found to be used by the Incas and Aztecs of Mexico into South America. The color captivated these early people, and continues to do so today. The Zuni Pueblo people credited the sky blue color as male from the heavens, and the green colors as female coming from mother earth. Turquoise is the birth stone of December and is said to enhance the good things in your life.
What It’s Made Of
Turquoise is a hydrated copper aluminum phosphate with the ingredients of copper, aluminum and phosphorous, creating a blue color. Zinc, iron or chromium are minerals which also may be present. Turquoise consisting of a higher iron content tends to contribute to a more greenish colored stone. The presence of zinc tends to give the turquoise a yellow tint. Found in veins, the color of turquoise can vary from one area of a deposit to another area. Due to the change of minerals, the same mine can and does provide more than one color. This makes it difficult to absolutely identify a mine origin entirely by the color of the stones. Turquoise is created as water percolates through the above mineral bearing rocks, and settles in and fills the voids in those stones. These rocks create what is commonly known as the matrix found in Turquoise.
The manner in which the way the stone is cut largely determines how the matrix and turquoise will be configured or displayed on the finished stone. The stones found deeper in the ground are generally not as hard as the stones found closer to the surface. The stone hardness can be a MOH value of 2 to 6 (1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest) which is not quite as hard as window glass. The harder the stone the less porous it will be. Due to its inherent porosity, turquoise can be discolored by detergents and oils, even skin oil. Some treatments altering and/or enhancing the color and hardness of turquoise have been used for thousands of years due to this characteristic.
It is estimated that only about 10-12% of turquoise is hard enough to be considered gem quality and is not treated in any way. Some of these stones do not change colors, although because of varying hardness, some might change generally to a more greenish color. These natural stones are much more difficult to find and thus command a premium price.
Old Treatment Methods
One of the oldest methods to treat Turquoise was to rub the stones with various types of oils or wax. This “old school” method works to add a protective layer and brighten the color of the stone. It is common to spray rough cut turquoise with water to see its real color. These oil and wax methods are designed to mimic the natural look of the wet stone. It should be noted that these common methods do wear out over time. Treating the stone with wax is more effective and longer lasting than those associated with using oils. Older, worn stones will eventually exhibit a patina resulting from the body oils of its wearer being absorbed.
Other Methods of Treatment
Stabilized stones have had exposure to epoxy and resins that seals the pores and generally retards the ability of the stones to absorb detergents and oils and thus change color. These are real stones that are now protected. If a plastic is included the stones might have a more ‘glassy’ look. Pressure might also be applied to drive the application deeper into the stone.
Enhanced Turquoise hasn’t had the pores filled but is treated with electricity and added potassium to give it an improved color and luster. This treatment is virtually undetectable to the look of completely natural stones and is used for higher quality stones.
Color injected stones have had a dye added for color enhancement and also to darken the matrix for a more vivid contrast to the stone color. This method is used for lesser quality stones and can have an unnatural look to an experienced eye.
Reconstituted Turquoise is generally lower quality grade of stone that is ground to a powder and then mixed with color dye and a binding agent and cured into slabs that are then cut into stones. This is real Turquoise but is not generally used for higher quality jewelry.
Block stone is entirely imitation and has no Turquoise whatsoever. It is mostly a plastic imitation that can have iron pyrite added and swirled to imitate matrix. This plastic is then formed and made into slabs that are then cut to size and shape. There is no real value to this ‘stone.
One should always make informed decisions of what they purchase. SilverTQ, LLC only markets and sells high-grade natural or carefully chosen stabilized turquoise that can be enjoyed and marveled at for many years to come.
Our Road Is Long
SilverTQ, LLC (formerly KESA, LLC) has a long history (since the mid 1970’s) of going to the southwest USA region during the early Spring to purchase new authentic Native American Indian jewelry items for our upcoming season. We pick this time of year for several reasons. The Christmas selling season is over and the summer tourist season has not yet started. Many business account have not begun stocking their stores, and therefore there is a larger amount of authentic Native American Indian jewelry and crafts available to purchase. We commonly spend close to two months choosing products while we are visiting these southwest jewelry and crafts producing areas. Most businesses do not spend nearly this amount of time, if they travel at all, which some do not.
All Silver And Only Authentic
The most important policy we stress for our buying authentic Native American Indian jewelry would be for all items to be made of sterling silver, and is handcrafted by a reputable Native American Indian artist. We do not, under any circumstances, purchase imported items that are falsely made to look like true Native American Indian handcrafted jewelry and crafts. Sadly, not all sellers aspire to this same philosophy. In fact, it was the misrepresentation and fraudulent behavior of some businesses that caused us to start traveling to the southwest region to purchase directly from the artist. It was mandatory for us to assuredly guarantee authentic craftsmanship of every jewelry and craft piece we acquired.
Home Spun Creations
Most of these handcrafted items, jewelry and crafts, are produced in a cottage style industry, where the artists sell their finished merchandise and then go to the local materials supply house to purchase more silver and stones. These Native American Indian artists typically create the new items at their homes and then bring them to town to sell, or sometimes contact us to inform us they have jewelry or crafts to sell. This is essentially a “timeless” industry that has changed little over the many past decades.
There typically are few “middlemen,” just the artist directly selling their own creations. There are some Native American Indians that perform their work in designated shops, creating jewelry in more replicable styles, but the bulk of what we purchase comes from those artists who create at their homes and come to town to sell. In the past we used to travel to the Indian reservation to meet with the artists at their homes. This proved not to be a good working plan. Oftentimes, we encountered artists who had not finished their pieces, or they sold them a day or two earlier, or they were in town, etc. We spent a lot of wasted time and gas to not find much. We finally decided the best policy in most instances was to wait for the artist to travel to town when they’re ready to sell.
The Art of Buying
The most efficient way we acquire interested and well-made items with some regularity is to spend time to learn what artist is bringing in finished product, and what they have to sell. Small items such as earrings and pendants might be offered in multiples. In these instances, we then choose the items we feel are the best pieces. Larger jewelry items such as necklaces, concho belts, etc. are often brought in by the artist to sell one at a time. Being patient and taking our time to choose, we have a better probability to acquire unique pieces made with outstanding stones and excellent silver work, as sometimes that is the only time we see these items offered for sale.
Our company “mantra” has always been to honestly promote our outstanding authentic Native American Indian jewelry and craft items at a reasonable and fair price. It’s impossible to be the best if you are always the least expensive. We do firmly believe in good quality work, and just like most everything else, you do get what you pay for.
SilverTQ, LLC has been handling and selling Native American sandcasted sterling silver jewelry since the mid 1970’s. Understanding the process by which the artist creates this uniquely American made
handcrafted jewelry is a fascinating education. Observing the impressive dexterity of these skillful
artists working on their creations is nothing short of an eye-opening experience. Their knowledge,
craftsmanship and innate ability to create beautiful works of wearable art are amazing.
How Is Sandcast Sterling Silver Jewelry Made?
Sandcasting sterling silver Native American pieces of jewelry is a labor intensive method of
handcrafted production. The artist first obtains a soft, easily carved stone that is named “Tufa Stone.”
The design is laid out on a flat Tufa Stone, and then hand carved into the body of the stone (see photo below). This design essentially defines what the finished piece of jewelry will look like. A pour hole is cut into the top of the design, but not into it. Small slots called “sprue lines” are then carved along the sides and bottom of the carved design.
These carved lines allow the air to escape and the sandcast form to completely fill with molten silver poured in from the pour hole. Another slab of Tufa Stone is placed over the top of the carved stone and held in
place by a strap. Many times this strap is like a large rubber band cut from a tire inner tube.
The molten silver is then poured into the pour hole and instantly hardens. The band is removed and the top
and bottom separated. The design will now pop out and be released from the mold. The artist will break off the little
lines of silver formed from the sprue holes and throw them back into the molten silver crucible that he or she
poured from. This will be the artist’s master form from his or her master mold. It should be noted that too many pours can burn out the master mold.
Now the true meaning of this sandcast procedure starts. The artist will have prepared a box, typically
wooden, filled with compacted damp sand. The master form will be laid on top of this sand and a piece
of flat Tufa Stone will be used to push the master form into the sand. The top stone is removed, the
master pulled out with pour and sprue holes cut into the form in the sand. The flat Tufa Stone will
now be placed again on top and secured with a wide rubber band. Molten silver will be poured into the
pour hole and a perfect cast will be created of the master form. When the top stone is removed, the sand is then dumped and the new sandcast piece is recovered. After loading the box with sand again, more pieces can be made using the same technique to produce duplicate pieces. Using this system to “cast in sand,” the master mold is not lost or burned out.
No mechanical means are used to produce sandcast jewelry; everything is done entirely by hand to
create this beautiful and unique style of wearable art. All styles of handcrafted Native American jewelry
can be created using the above sandcasting methods. Rings, buckles, bracelets, bolos, Concho belts,
earrings, pins and pendants, necklaces, squash blossom necklaces, baby spoons, and letter openers are to name a few items that can be handcrafted by this described sandcast method.
Time For New Discoveries
We at SilverTQ, LLC are continually ordering and receiving new merchandise made by reputable Native American silversmiths. This is the time of year when special customer requests can be handled and created by these artists. Christmas season has ended and the next popular holiday is not until Valentine’s Day. This time period will offer some artistic expression and creativity to be exercised. Wishing for something you have not been able to find? Well, you’ve come to the right place! All you need to do is contact us and we will be happy to assist in any way we can.
Please keep in mind special custom orders will not ship immediately. Additional time needs to be given for us to contact a particular artist and for the time required for them to produce the piece(s). We would ask that you be as specific in your request as possible. Please remember that handcrafted items will never be exactly the same as, say, a photo of an item. We will certainly do our best to make sure you’re fully satisfied.
Lots Of Unlisted Items
SilverTQ, LLC has an extensive inventory that is not currently listed 0n our website. Consequently, there’s a possibility we might have something the same or similar to what you might be looking for. Contact us and we’ll promptly let you know!
Always Sterling Silver
Every Native American jewelry item we market is sterling silver, consisting of 92.5% pure silver. The remaining 7.5% content is of other metals, most commonly copper. A higher percentage of silver content causes the metal to be too soft and not suitable for most jewelry.
Please be aware that there is a product labeled “nickel silver” or sometimes called “German silver” that is in fact, NOT silver, and has NO silver content. The usual content of this product consists of 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. Nickel silver is named for its silvery appearance, but it contains no elemental silver. It can sometimes be passed off as being authentic sterling silver thus leaving the consumer to assume it is but another name for it.
Every item carried by SilverTQ, LLC is warranted as being sterling silver. The only exceptions may be found on some of the attachments or “findings” used for making jewelry items such as money clips, keychains, bolo slide backs, barrettes and combs. However, the material used for the main body or “face” of these pieces will always be of handcrafted sterling silver. We always invite questions for clarification, as we want our customers to have complete confidence in all of our products.
Why Choose Us?
There are not many purveyors of authentic Native American jewelry and crafts that have been in continuous business as long as we have. Since establishing our formidable wholesale business in 1978, we have solely specialized in selling Native American jewelry and craft items handcrafted in the southwest USA. Our products have always been handcrafted by the Navajo, Zuni Pueblo, Hopi Pueblos, Santo Domingo Pueblo, and various other Pueblo tribes found mostly residing along the Rio Grande River. Our guiding principal was to honestly represent the products as being completely handcrafted in the USA by Native American artists. We have never strayed from this path, and you will never find imports, or imitation goods offered. Whether you are looking for Indian made sterling silver earrings, sterling silver bracelets, sterling silver rings, sterling silver concho belts, sterling silver necklaces, table fetishes, miniature Kachinas, or any of the other jewelry and crafts you have come to the right place!
A Vast Selection
It is not uncommon for some competitors to procure their Native American jewelry and craft items from a limited area or region of where their products are made. In other words, they may choose to primarily acquire their items from just a few sources. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this business practice, what they offer may start to have the ‘oneness’ of look that we try to avoid. When we travel and go on a buying trip, we focus on going to a wide variety of locations offering varied designs and artistic techniques. SilverTQ, LLC represents native American craftsmen from all styles and tribal affiliations. Adhering to this marketing strategy, we feel, provides our customers with a rich and wide assortment of the most interesting Native American jewelry and craft items available. We carry a large inventory of products, always highlighting our newest acquisitions. If we don’t happen to have that special item you’re in search of, there’s a good possibility we can find or even have it made by a reputable Native American artist. One thing for certain, any item purchased from our company will always be authentically handcrafted by a Native American artist. That’s our promise fully guaranteed!
Where Turquoise Comes From
There are numerous mines located in the Southwest United States that lay claim to producing a variety of turquoise stones. Most of these mines reside primarily in Nevada and Arizona with some others being in New Mexico, Colorado and California. Many of these mines, due to various reasons, have been officially closed and are no longer being credited for any production. It should also be noted turquoise is also mined in places such as Iran, Egypt China, Chile and Mexico. Most of the high-grade turquoise acquired and marketed by SilverTQ, LLC, originates from the various southwestern United States locations.
The Many “Faces” of Turquoise
Turquoise is well known for its wide spectrum of color variations, depending on its particular chemical composition. It can range in various shades of deep to light blue, greenish blue, green and an even a more rarer color of greenish yellow. Turquoise stones having a higher concentration of copper will exhibit the color of blue to blue-green. This identifiable blue color is typically what many associate and perceive as being the true color of turquoise. However, the color spectrum doesn’t stop here! Turquoise stones possessing a high concentration of iron will typically display some form or shade of a green color. Turquoise containing zinc, a much rarer composition, will be of some type of yellow and green color.
Many of our customers who purchase our finely handcrafted Native American turquoise jewelry often want to know what is the mine of origination for their particular piece or pieces. This makes sense, right? Buyers who fall in love with their handcrafted Native American jewelry naturally wish to know as much about their piece as possible. This is where it can start to become a bit “tricky.” Unfortunately, there exists no specific turquoise mine we know of that is credited for producing an exact uniform color or shade. In other words, variations of pattern, color, matrix and shade often times are found within the same mine. Below is a tray of turquoise we photographed that comes from the Dry Creek Turquoise mine. Looking at the photo one can easily see not all of these stones are alike with many variations in shades of blue and some even favoring the color green.
Most of the turquoise jewelry we market at SilverTQ, LLC, is identified by the mine of origination. As mentioned, all turquoise mines produce a variety of matrix, shade, pattern and/or color. We do our due diligence to provide as much known information on each individual jewelry piece as is possible. However, there are some instances when the artist themselves are uncertain of the origin of the turquoise stones they use. Many times the artist will choose from an assortment of stones originating from various mines he or she has not labeled. If we can not positively identify the correct mine, it is our policy not to guess the mine’s origin. We have found this to be a good way of doing business for nearly four decades. Accuracy has always been important to us.
Sam Shoultz and Frank Petrouskie
Ready to “Rumble?”
“Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World” is a recently released movie documentary Frank and Sam highly encourage all to go see! The documentary does a commendable job of chronicling those Native Americans who left their formidable “footprint” in many genres of modern music, not just rock and roll. From Mississippi blues guitarist Charlie Patton to the great jazz singer Mildred Bailey, these influential Native American musical artists are also portrayed.
The documentary is yet another testimony spotlighting the rich and creative culture of the American Indian. Their musical talents were often times unrecognized and disassociated with their heritage. The movie’s title, “Rumble,” refers to the 1958 rock song by Shawnee musical artist Link Wray. The song’s iconic sound with Wray’s ground-breaking use of “power chords” paved the way in influencing many other rock musicians. Jimi Hendrix (yes, Jimi!), Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jesse Ed Davis and Stevie Salas (also an executive producer of the documentary) are some of the influential Native American musicians, singers and song writers noted in the movie. Steven Tyler, Iggy Pop, Steve Van Zandt, Tony Bennett, Slash, Wayne Kramer, Taj Mahal and George Clinton are a few among many who pay homage to the many Native American musical artists who profoundly influenced their music. Oh yes, almost forgotten, highly acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese also chimes in!
Noting the remembrance of the Kiowa/Comanche studio musician and lead guitarist Jesse Ed Davis was of particular interest. Frank notes of being introduced to Davis’ distinctive guitar style during his tenure with singer/musician Taj Mahal. “Jesse’s soulful guitar play on “Six Days on the Road” instantly got me hooked” claims Frank. Jesse also played lead guitar on Jackson Browne’s hit song “Doctor My Eyes” and was credited for playing lead guitar on the Monkees classic tune “Last Train To Clarksville.” “Now that’s a song with a guitar riff no one can forget” Sam says laughingly! Jesse’s gifted musical talent was enormously respected and sought after by so many other noteworthy musicians including John Lennon, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Leon Russell.
Enticed to see? We hope so!!
Sam Shoultz and Frank Petrouskie