What is meant by “Old Pawn Jewelry”

On Native American Indian reservations, any Old Pawn Jewelry or Native American art that is 100 years old is considered to be very old, antique, vintage, or ancient. Strictly off of a Native American Indian Reservation, such as the Navajo Reservation, old pawn represents genuine authentic Indian jewelry, although it is the opinion of some pseudo-experts that old pawn was jewelry that was originally made for pawn. It, in fact, isn’t necessarily a piece of jewelry that a Native American Indian had pawned, because he or she had financial woes, or needed money at that present time. For collectors of Native American antique vintage old pawn jewelry, the emotional attraction and value of old pawn Indian jewelry is that it was once owned, appreciated, worn, and used by actual Native American Indians. It is as an intimate relic of a people and a culture that is slowly disappearing into history.

Old Pawn Jewelry experts have researched Native American Indian Silversmiths and antique vintage old pawn jewelry and they are convinced that most of the old silversmiths produced a higher standard of their art for Native American Indians than they did for traders and other non-Native American Indians. When a Navajo man or woman wanted a piece of Old Pawn Jewelry, he or she went to a silversmith, usually a relative the piece was customized to order, scaled to the individual’s size, and built. More often than not, the buyer furnished the old jewelry, silver, turquoise, or anything else that was needed.

Old Pawn Jewelry serves many different and distinct  purposes, which include a decoration, a display of wealth, and also, could be used as collateral against loans at a trading post. The pawn rack became an important and respectable part of the economic and social life of many Native Americans, such as the Navajo people.  

Old Pawn Jewelry moved in and out of pawn shops at regular seasonal intervals, which were synchronized to the spring and fall lamb, wool, and the harvest activities. Much of the Indian jewelry was removed from pawn during the summer dances and ceremonies, and it was returned again during the winter months.

The discerning Native Americans knew beauty and skilled craftsmanship, therefore, they would not wear poorly constructed or inadequate Old Pawn Jewelry. The quality and color of the turquoise may not have been the best, however, the craftsmanship was expected to be of high quality. The Navajo people kept their silver bright, shining and untarnished by buffing, or brushing it with yucca suds and water.

The amount of cash or credit advanced depended on the value of the amounts of silver and turquoise, as well as the owner’s credit rating with the post. Native Americans rarely pawned all of their silver with one particular trader. Established traders set their own time limits with the individual, regardless of the general law, which required traders to hold pawn for only thirty days. One licensed pawn rack in Gallup, New Mexico holds Old Pawn Jewelry in their vault for 90 days. If a loan contract is not paid or extended, it is displayed in a warning case for 30 days, before it is classified as old or dead pawn.

Old pawn racks were rich sources of the jewelry created by the finest Navajo silversmiths of their day for the Native Americans. It was untouched by the influence of other people and cultures. If antique vintage old pawn jewelry could, it would be able to tell a story of happy times, times of sorrow and ceremonials, as it has traveled along the path of Native American life.

Old Pawn Native American Jewelry remains ones of the most highly collected items of Jewelry within the United States. It’s becoming more popular in other countries also which is driving the prices higher.

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