Navajo Sterling Silver & Royston Turquoise Bracelet - Derrick Gordon (#23)

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Southwest,Baskets,Navajo,Native,American,Art,Jewelry,Pottery,Weaving,Rug,Blanket,Manta,Necklace,Turquoise,Twin Rocks,Zuni,Santo Domingo,Fetish,Hopi
Southwest,Baskets,Navajo,Native,American,Art,Jewelry,Pottery,Weaving,Rug,Blanket,Manta,Necklace,Turquoise,Twin Rocks,Zuni,Santo Domingo,Fetish,Hopi
Southwest,Baskets,Navajo,Native,American,Art,Jewelry,Pottery,Weaving,Rug,Blanket,Manta,Necklace,Turquoise,Twin Rocks,Zuni,Santo Domingo,Fetish,Hopi

Navajo Sterling Silver & Royston Turquoise Bracelet - Derrick Gordon (#23)


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Navajo Jewerly
Inner Circumference: 5 1/2"
Opening: 1 1/4"
Total: 6 3/4"
Width: 7/8"

Navajo artist, Derrick Gordon, has hammered, stamped, filed, bumped-out, shaped, set, polished and antiqued his way to an extremely nice cuff bracelet.  High-grade natural Royston turquoise from the great state of Nevada, USA sits at the pinnacle of this piece of jewelry.  Derrick has created a classic piece of jewelry with this bracelet.

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Royston Turquoise

The Royston Mining District lies on the Nye-Esmerelda County line, about 24 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada. In this area, turquoise mines are scattered for nearly a mile along a shallow canyon. Because it involves many small producers, the Royston district is one of the better-known turquoise mining areas in Nevada. Three of the district's more important turquoise mines are the Royal Blue, Bunker Hill and the Oscar Wehrend.

The Royal Blue mine constitutes the main turquoise workings in the district. This turquoise shows as fine-grained, altered porphyry, which is soft in places, although much of it has been hardened by silification. The turquoise is found principally in veinlets and seams, with minor lenses and nodules. The veinlets and lenses range from a fraction of an inch to more than an inch in thickness. Masses of turquoise, filling brecciated matrix, have, however, been found more than five inches thick. Lens shaped pieces of turquoise weighing an ounce or two are not uncommon, and one piece weighing nearly a pound and a half were found.

Royston turquoise ranges in color from dark and pale blue to various shades of green. Some of the dark blue turquoise has a slightly greenish cast, and some is nearly pure blue in color. The dark blue turquoise and that with a greenish cast are very fine grained and hard; the lighter colored ore is generally softer. The best turquoise is often found in limonite stained rock, and the pale blue, softer turquoise is found in light colored, softer porphyry. The quality of the best pure blue stones from the Royal Blue is equal to that found in any American mine and the matrix is especially fine.

The hard turquoise veins and nuggets are coated with a crust or stain of dark to light shading, and at times include a yellow limonite. This stain penetrates the turquoise along seams and branching cracks, producing attractive patterns and contrasts of color. Some large specimens have consisted of a patchwork of dark blue with a slightly greenish tint, marked in places with a very dark red-brown matrix. These cut gems can exhibit exceedingly wide variations of shading, and the matrix contrasts are often striking. Great spider webbing in green or blue nuggets and unusual scenic turquoise pieces are a hallmark of Royston

Two prospectors named Workman and Davis, who later sold the mine to William Petry for $3,000.00, discovered the mine in 1902. Petry improved the mine to the point of assuring its production, and, in 1907, sold it to The Himalaya Mining Co., which was owned by Julius Tannenbaum of Los Angeles and New York. Tannenbaum owned a number of mines in Nevada and California. During 1908 and 1909, the property was systematically and actively worked under the directions of Julius Goldsmith, Tanenbaum's son-in-law. Tannenbaum died suddenly about 1910, and Goldsmith hurried east to settle the estate. Shortly afterwards, he ordered operations abandoned and about 1911 sold the mine back to Petry. Petry and W. I. Miller, who had been Petry's mine boss, operated the mine for a time, and then leased it to Lee Hand and Bert Kopenhaver. Hand and Kopenhaver worked the mine dumps for a time, and then bought the mine outright from Petry. Kopenhaver later sold his share to Charley Bona. Hand and Bona worked the mine periodically, and in 1936 Bona sold his interest to Ted Johnson. In 1940 Johnson sold his share to Lee Hand.

The Otteson family now works the mine. The Otteson story began in 1944 with Lynn Otteson. Lynn brought his family to Nevada to mine turquoise and leased his first Royston claim from Lee Hand. At that time, Hand owned approximately 30 claims in the Royston district. The Otteson family has owned or leased turquoise claims in this district for the past 60 years. The Royal Blue mine has been one of the major turquoise producers in the state of Nevada. For some time, the mine produced as much as 1,250 pounds of turquoise a month, and several times has exceeded that amount.

Petry, at the time he sold the mine to Hand and Kopenhaver, declared that the Royal Blue had produced more gem quality turquoise than any mine in the United States. He placed the value of cut stones taken from the mine at more than $5 million. There is no adequate estimate of the value of gems produced from the mine in the years since that time.

The Bunker Hill is about half a mile north of The Royal Blue. In this mine, turquoise occurs in altered quartzite and ranges from royal blue to greenish blue with brown with white matrix. Turquoise is mainly in the form of slabs from 1/16 of an inch to a full inch thick. The mine was discovered in 1927 by Roy Palfreyman and Bert Kopenhaver, and was originally opened as a small shaft about 20 feet deep. As the turquoise was unearthed, the shaft was widened along the seam into a long stope, which was eventually opened into a glory hole. Polfreyman and Kopenhaver took out about $30,000 worth of turquoise, then sold to the owners of the Royal Blue mine, who produced about $75,000 worth of material. The mine eventually was incorporated into the Royal Blue group of claims.

The Oscar Wehrend mine, in the Royston district, is about 1/3 of a mile from the main workings of the Royal Blue. The turquoise is in highly altered rocks, where it forms seams, coatings and nodules as large as 2 inches thick. It is mostly soft, pale, and not of very good quality. Its color and hardness can, however, be improved by artificial means. Oscar Wehrend discovered the deposit in 1909, but Lee Hand conducted much of the work. Production from the property has been small.

The Royston Mine was originally worked as a silver mine in the late 1800s, Large deposits of high quality turquoise led Tiffany's of New York to incorporate quality green and blue turquoise stones from the Royston Hills into their jewelry lines prior to WWII. There was a brief surge of Royston turquoise production in the 1970s, and the Royston district is still producing limited amounts of high quality turquoise. The turquoise currently being produced from the Royston district is mined by Dean and Danny Otteson, and is coming from the Royal Royston claim.

About the artist:

At the age of nineteen, Derrick Gordon sat down at the bench with his uncle, Delbert Gordon, and a promising new career was launched.  Derrick was born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico.  He came into this world in 1971, but it was not until 1990 that he began to bless us with his unique style of Navajo silver jewelry. 

See full biography | See all items by Derrick Gordon

Related categories:

Navajo Jewelry See all items in this category

Related legends:

Silversmith Work

When and how the Navajo acquired the art of working metals is unknown but there are reasons for supposing that it was introduced among them, or at least more developed and improved upon by them, since the time they have occupied their present country?

More about this legend

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This site was last updated on October 24, 2020.

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