The Southwest’s Finest Turquoise and Coral Jewelry at Your Fingertips

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In the world of jewelry, few gemstones captivate the imagination and inspire admiration quite like turquoise and coral. These vibrant and distinctively colored stones have been cherished for centuries, not only for their natural beauty but also for their cultural and spiritual significance. In the American Southwest, these treasures have been incorporated into jewelry for generations, creating a rich tradition that continues to thrive today. This article will delve into the fascinating world of Vintage Costume jewelry featuring turquoise and coral, celebrating the craftsmanship and artistry of the Southwest.

A Brief History of Turquoise and Coral Jewelry

Turquoise has been adored and revered by various civilizations throughout history, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Native Americans. Its striking blue and green hues have symbolized protection, wisdom, and healing properties. Coral, on the other hand, has been used for jewelry since ancient times, with the ancient Romans and Egyptians valuing its vibrant red color for its protective and ornamental qualities.

In the American Southwest, the use of turquoise and coral in jewelry dates back centuries, with Native American tribes such as the Navajo and Zuni creating exquisite pieces that combined traditional craftsmanship with the vibrant stones. The arrival of European settlers and traders in the 19th century led to a fusion of Native American and Western styles, resulting in a unique genre of jewelry known as “Southwest Jewelry.”

The Birth of Vintage Costume Jewelry

The late 19th century marked a significant turning point in the history of jewelry-making in the American Southwest. The burgeoning tourist industry, the expansion of the railroad, and the arrival of traders and craftsmen from the East Coast all contributed to the development of a distinct style of jewelry that catered to a wider audience. This marked the beginning of what we now refer to as “vintage costume jewelry.”

Vintage costume jewelry is characterized by its use of non-precious materials to replicate the look of more expensive gemstones. This style allowed people of various economic backgrounds to enjoy the beauty of gemstone jewelry without the high price tag. Turquoise and coral, with their vibrant colors and cultural significance, became popular choices for vintage costume jewelry in the Southwest.

The Appeal of Vintage Costume Jewelry

Affordability: Vintage costume jewelry made turquoise and coral accessible to a broader audience. While the genuine stones can be quite expensive, costume jewelry allowed people to enjoy the beauty and symbolism of these gemstones without breaking the bank.

Versatility: Vintage costume jewelry offered a wide range of designs and styles, making it suitable for various occasions. From casual everyday wear to more formal events, there was a piece of vintage costume jewelry for every outfit.

Cultural Connection: Many vintage costume jewelry pieces incorporated traditional Native American designs, honoring the rich cultural heritage of the Southwest. This added a layer of authenticity and cultural significance to the jewelry.

Craftsmanship: Even though vintage costume jewelry did not feature precious metals or gemstones, the craftsmanship was often exquisite. Skilled artisans took great care in creating intricate designs, ensuring that each piece was a work of art in its own right.

Exploring Vintage Costume Jewelry

Turquoise and Coral Necklaces

Vintage Costume jewelry often featured necklaces adorned with turquoise and coral beads. These necklaces came in various lengths and styles, from delicate chokers to long, dramatic strands. Some designs incorporated silver beads and other materials to enhance the overall aesthetic. These necklaces were a staple of Southwest fashion and remain popular today for their versatility and timeless appeal.

Turquoise and Coral Rings

Rings adorned with turquoise and coral stones were another common feature of vintage costume jewelry. These rings came in a variety of settings, from simple bezel designs to more elaborate cluster arrangements. Turquoise and coral rings added a pop of color and sophistication to any ensemble, making them a cherished accessory for generations.

Turquoise and Coral Earrings

Earrings featuring turquoise and coral were highly sought after for their striking colors and eye-catching designs. Vintage costume jewelry offered a wide range of earring styles, including studs, hoops, and dangles. These earrings added a touch of elegance and Southwestern flair to any outfit, making them a popular choice among jewelry enthusiasts.

Turquoise and Coral Bracelets

Bracelets adorned with turquoise and coral stones were a favorite among collectors of vintage costume jewelry. These bracelets came in various styles, from cuff bracelets with intricate silverwork to beaded stretch bracelets for a more casual look. Turquoise and coral bracelets were often statement pieces that drew attention and admiration.

Preserving Vintage Costume Jewelry

Vintage costume jewelry featuring turquoise and coral is not only a testament to the creativity and craftsmanship of its era but also a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of the American Southwest. If you’re lucky enough to own such pieces, it’s essential to take proper care of them to ensure their longevity.

Store Carefully: Keep your vintage costume jewelry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Store each piece separately to prevent scratches and tangles.

Clean Gently: Use a soft, damp cloth to gently clean the jewelry. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that may damage the stones or metal.

Repairs and Maintenance: If you notice any loose stones or damaged clasps, consider taking your vintage costume jewelry to a professional jeweler for repairs. Proper maintenance can help preserve the value and beauty of these pieces.


Vintage costume jewelry featuring turquoise and coral is a treasure trove of history, culture, and artistry. These pieces offer a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse heritage of the American Southwest, where tradition and innovation converge to create jewelry that transcends time. Whether you’re a collector, a fashion enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of these gemstones, vintage costume jewelry provides an opportunity to connect with the past and wear a piece of history at your fingertips.

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