Squash Blossom and Naja Necklaces ~ Legendary Southwestern Jewels - American West Jewelry

Squash Blossom and Naja Necklaces ~ Legendary Southwestern Jewels

I have always been a passionate collector of jewelry, especially pieces that have cultural significance. I have been fortunate to visit many corners of our country and I’m intrigued by the important way regional history, culture and lifestyle continue to influence distinctly unique art forms.

Nowhere was this more captivating than on my first visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, 35 years ago. As a jewelry lover with a curiosity for legend and lore, I instantly knew I had discovered my new home. I soon realized I was in the company of people from around the world who also shared my passion. And for me, the Squash Blossom necklace is a symbol of the exhilaration and lasting power of those feelings. Whether attending a Feast Day celebration at the Pueblos, a Native American Art show on the Plaza or a gala fundraising event; the most iconic, important jewelry statement of cultural reverence and style is the Squash Blossom necklace.

Children, elders, serious collectors and fashionistas proudly make this their personal statement whether in traditional clothing, weekend casual style or red-carpet-ready glamor. The Squash Blossom necklace is the original American statement necklace. At American West Jewelry, we proudly continue this tradition through designs from classic, to romantic and even a little edgy. Always crafted here in Albuquerque, New Mexico in Sterling Silver and quality genuine gemstones.

What is a Squash Blossom necklace?

A Squash Blossom necklace is a beaded necklace made of Sterling Silver beads, and it may also include precious natural stones or shells. By design, it’s a bigger piece. It often features two rows of Native Pearls (Sterling Silver beads), with several stations on each side and a substantial crescent-shaped focal bead. The stations are the source of the necklace’s name. Their shape is in the form of squash blossoms, long trumpet shapes ending in rounded petals. The Squash Blossom’s centerpiece bead is called a Naja.

 

Arrowhead Collection

Arrowhead Collection: https://americanwestjewelry.com/arrowhead-collection/

How do you create a Squash Blossom necklace?

Each American West Jewelry Squash Blossom necklace begins as a drawing that becomes a technical blueprint. With the blueprint, we create a prototype to evaluate how the design looks, feels and wears. With heavier and larger designs comfort is a priority. Team members wear-test each piece to make sure you will love wearing them. For comfort, we use techniques like double rows of Native Pearls to help Squash Blossom necklaces lie flat without twisting.

When the prototype of a new design is perfect, production begins. It takes our team of skilled artisans at least six hours to create each necklace. Specialists handle each task including casting the metal mountings, setting the stones, stringing the beads and pendants, and polishing the completed pieces. We take our time to ensure each necklace will be of lasting, heirloom quality.

Our classic Squash Blossom inventory includes stones like turquoise and red coral. We also create limited edition jewelry when we find beautiful stones or shells in small quantities. They limit production, but we can’t help but share their beauty with as many of you as we can. Our collectors know when they see a limited edition that they need to add it to their jewelry suite!

 

Classic Squash Blossom Necklaces
Classic Squash Blossom Necklaces

Divas put the spotlight on Southwest jewelry

A Squash Blossom necklace is a piece of fine jewelry that is right for any setting or event. Like a Cartier tank watch or a Tiffany yellow-diamond solitaire, skilled jewelers make Squash Blossom necklaces with the finest materials. In the 20th century, Southwest icons like artist Georgia O’Keeffe, writer and arts patron Mabel Dodge Luhan and heiress Millicent Rogers recognized the exceptional artistry and craftsmanship found in Southwestern jewelry. They pioneered wearing their pieces as casual day wear, cocktail attire and evening wear. Check out our Heritage Page for more: https://americanwestjewelry.com/aw-heritage/

Oil heiress Rogers had access to the most precious and expensive jewelry in the world, but when she first came to Taos, NM in 1947, she became enthralled with the region’s Native American jewelry designs. Rogers was a beautiful woman known for her own jewelry designs and fashion sense. She wore couture, attended glamorous events and even dated movie star, Clark Gable. When Rogers began wearing turquoise Squash Blossom necklaces and stacking turquoise and Sterling Silver cuff bracelets with her ultra-feminine silk blouses and bespoke ball gowns, she charmed the fashion world with her bold choices.

Today, women of independent spirit who like to stand out from the crowd have embraced Native American inspired jewelry—with Squash Blossom necklaces acknowledged as the centerpiece of their collections.

Squash Blossom Necklaces Blog
Independent Spirit

How do you wear a Squash Blossom necklace?

A classic Turquoise Squash Blossom necklace looks at home with traditional Western wear and denim. One of Miranda Lambert’s 2021 ACM Awards looks was head-to-toe faded blue denim (shirt, jacket and jeans) with a supersize turquoise Squash Blossom and Naja necklace.

With Sterling Silver and turquoise complimenting every skin tone, a turquoise Squash Blossom necklace is perfection with a strapless gown or a dress with a plunging neckline. Cowgirl Magazine brought this look to life with a feature on cowgirl brides. The brides wear white lace and turquoise, and denim and tulle, in true cowgirl style—radiating confidence with no apologies.

I’m a bit smitten with a lovely, tiered cotton dress in ivory from Free People at Boot Barn. Imagine it with the delicate pinks of our Rhodonite Squash Blossom necklace—check out the first colorful pic! With rhodonite associated with love and romance, a single cowgirl in this outfit is sure to attract suitors and feel gorgeous!

Squash Blossom Necklaces

If you like a look a little edgier, a bit rock ‘n roll, consider pairing our Black Agate Squash Blossom necklace with all black, or contrast it with a bright jewel-toned shirt like a fuchsia camisole from Shyanne®. For an office-to-cocktail hour look you could pair our dramatic black agate necklace with a Lala cobalt silk blouse.

While Squash Blossoms are always statement pieces, this one is more petite in size. Our Sterling Silver Multi Gemstone Squash Blossom Necklace has a 16-inch length (with a 3-inch extender) and a Naja pendant that’s 1.5 inches wide by 2 inches long. Despite its smaller size, it features many vibrant stones in bright colors, including red coral, orange spiny oyster, blue turquoise and green variscite; it still makes a statement. It’s perfect to bring sunshine to your day, even when dark thunder clouds bring the desert rain.

 

Remember that Southwestern divas never limit themselves to one necklace, ring or cuff. Explore layering American West Jewelry pieces to create inspired new looks (and be sure to share them with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter).

Why are Squash Blossom necklaces coveted?

You don’t need to know the lore behind the Squash Blossom necklace to want to add several to your collection. But each beautiful piece does represent an astonishing synergy of cultures, with each people’s skills and symbols converging to create a new art form. The art and culture of the diverse American Southwest have deep origins that span the globe.

Before the Spanish came to North and Central America, indigenous peoples excelled at creating beadwork jewelry and we know the people of the Hopewell Culture created beautiful copper pieces as long as 2000 years ago. However, Indigenous Southwest peoples did not create complex silver pieces until the Spanish shared their metalworking techniques and expanded the range of their metalwork.
You can see the Spanish influence in the Squash Blossom’s Naja pendant. Najas originally decorated the bridles of Spanish horses, dangling on their foreheads. It turns out that the Spanish reintroduced horses to North America (they were originally from North America but migrated away thousands of years ago), and the Indigenous people warmly welcomed them home.

It seems that the Spanish, in turn, borrowed the Naja pendant from the crescent-shaped adornments North-African Moors placed on their horse’s bridles to protect riders from the “evil eye.” The Moors occupied Spain for hundreds of years, and interestingly, in 1491, the Spanish built the original Santa Fe (meaning “holy faith”) in Spain as a military outpost for their battles with the Moors.

 

Tinkertown Western Jewelry

Some Naja pendants also resemble the fleur-de-lis (lily flower) symbol of French royalty.

That’s a lot of history to find in one necklace and there’s more.

The Indigenous peoples of the Southwest also included their symbols and materials in the Squash Blossom’s design. Squash is a sacred plant to many Native American cultures and is revered, with corn and beans as one of the Three Sisters—three crops Native farmers plant together. The Three Sisters have a beloved traditional story about their origins.

Turquoise adds another layer of lore to the Squash Blossom. For at least 1000 years, it’s been part of North American jewelry. Turquoise is a symbol of sky and water and has many myths and superstitions that surround it. It symbolizes fertility, health and a good harvest.

Stay tuned, a blog about turquoise is coming soon.

Legendary Style

Around the world, women wear various symbols for luck, health and protection like the East Indian and Middle Eastern Hamsa, the Latin American Milagros charms and the silk Omamori amulets of Japan.

The Squash Blossom necklace takes its place among these exceptional adornments steeped in lore. It’s the Southwest’s sacred talisman. When you wear one of our Squash Blossom necklaces, you may feel the energy of the Land of Enchantment and the spirits of daring female pioneers cheering for you.

Like Millicent Rogers, I love to style unique Southwestern American jewelry, rich in meaning. Join me and select a stunning Squash Blossom Naja necklace that speaks to the power of choosing your own path~ the beauty of being an original!

Happy Trails!