Navajo Natural High Grade Searchlight Turquoise Bracelet - Derrick Gordon (#25)

Navajo Jewelry
Total inner circumference including opening: 7 1/4"
Opening: 1 1/4"

Derrick Gordon was born in Gallup, NM in 1971 and now lives and works in Sanders, AZ. Derrick is inspired by all types of jewelry, but the old style and traditional designs are his favorite. In this case Derrick has crafted this extremely attractive hand-stamped and repossee cuff bracelet using a striking cabochon of high-grade natural Searchlight turquoise. The Searchlight mining district is situated in the Colorado River Basin in Clark County, Nevada on U.S. 95 and State Route 164, midway between Las Vegas and Laughlin.


Searchlight Turquoise

Searchlight Mine (aka; Crescent Peak mine Wood mine; Simmons mine; Turquoise mine; Aztec claim; Right Blue claim)

“The Simmons or Crescent Peak mine is mainly on two patented claims known as the Aztec and Right Blue. It is about 12 line miles west of Searchlight in the basin on the south and west flanks of Crescent Peak. The principal workings are in the SW1/4 sec. 26 and NW1/4sec. 35, T. 28 S., R. 61 E. Host rock for the deposits is sheared; argillized granite and quartz monzonite that locally contains abundant vuggy quartz veins. Turquoise occurs as veinlets and nodules, some of which are intimately associated with quartz veinlets.

Turquoise has been taken mainly from two groups of workings. The first of these, on the south flank of Crescent Peak, consists of an audit about100 feet long, an open cut about 50 feet long and 20 feet deep, and an inclined shaft sunk from the open cut for about 200 feet at an angle of 50 NW.  The shaft caved in during the year of 1965. The second group of workings lies 300 to 500 feet southeast along the sides of a gulch. On the northwest side of the gulch there are two open cuts and an audit; the upper cutis about 20 by 40 feet long and 15 feet deep; the lower cut is about 50 feet long and 10 feet deep with short audits from it. Below the two cuts, there is an audit some 240 feet long driven northwesterly under the open cuts. On the southeast side of the gulch, a tunnel has been driven for about 150 feet with branching tunnels and stoops connecting to an open cut about 50 feet above. The open cut is about 60 feet long and 20 feet deep. Other smaller workings are scattered over the peak.

A George Simmons, who camped by a large Joshua tree near the deposit after a heavy rain, discovered the mine in 1889 or 1890. The next morning he found a number of the bright blue turquoise fragments but discarded them after they failed to give strong indications of copper. About two years later, while in New Mexico, Simmons visited a turquoise mine and recognized the material he had thrown away. He left at once for Nevada, found the former campsite and Joshua tree, and set about tracing the fragments of turquoise “float” to their source. Following a trail up the side of Crescent Peak, he came to the source, which proved to be the abandoned remains of a mine worked by the aborigines. Larger fragments of turquoise lay scattered about, together with abandoned stone chisels, wedges, and hammers.

Below the mine workings Simmons found a leveled terrace on which there had apparently been workshops and quarters for the miners. Remains were found of rude dugouts with collapsed roofs of logs and brush. At one end of the site was a kitchen midden of broken pottery, at the other end was evidence of a lapidary shop with rubbing and polishing stones and a huge quantity of tiny turquoise fragments. From a study of the growth rings in the logs found in the fallen roofs, and a study of the implements, archaeologists estimated the mine must have been worked and abandoned 200 years before Columbus reached America. There was no sign of rock carvings or pictographs such as those found at the great aboriginal mining sites in California, hence it would seem this mine had been worked by a different people.


The presence of the lapidary shop argued for an intelligence that realized the economy of transporting finished, or partly finished, turquoise from the site, rather than the rough ore with its waste rock. It is thought to indicate the miners may have been Aztecs or Toltecs.

Simmons cleared out the pits and found the vein of turquoise, which turned from the vertical and dipped at a considerable angle. The aboriginal miners had followed this vein until the overhanging roof became a menace. There was no provision for safety in aboriginal mining. The usual way of extracting the ore was to build a fire against the face of the rock, then throw water on the hot stone, causing it to crack. Wedges were then driven into the cracks until the mass broke away. Simmons dug a quantity of turquoise from the mine and took it to London for appraisal. Assured of the quality and the probable price he could expect, he returned and expanded operations. Some of his turquoise was shipped to William Kley, at Denver, CO, through whom Simmons contacted William Petry, a German lapidary. Simmons hired Petry and ordered him to set up a fully equipped lapidary shop at the mine. After that, no more rough turquoise was sold. The bulk of the finished gems were sold to Woods & Lamont, wholesale gem dealers in New York City.

The quantity and quality of the gems resulted in an offer from J. R. Woods, senior partner, and in 1896 Simmons sold the mine to Woods, remaining for a time in charge of operations.

Woods patented the group of claims in the name of the Toltec Gem Mining Co. and continued operation for a number of years. Simmons left the mine after about a year, turning management over to Milton Mundy who was sent from New York by Woods. Mundy was not very successful, and Woods persuaded Simmons to return as manager.

Simmons, en-route to Barnwell, Calif., was met by W. L. Miller, whom Simmons had discharged as mine boss. Miller shot Simmons dead with a borrowed Army rifle. Brought to trial in San Bernardino, Calif., Miller pleaded insanity and was acquitted.

The Turquoise mine, as Woods renamed his property, was abandoned when the ore dwindled to a point where it could no longer be mined profitably at decreased prices. Since then a number of miners have worked the veins and abandoned them. The last owner and operator was O. R. Spear who bought the original claims at a tax sale. Spear died in 1965.

The largest and most perfect stone found at the Simmons mine weighed slightly more than 200 karats when cut. Simmons had it set in a brooch, surrounded by diamonds, as a gift to his wife. There is no reliable estimate of the total value of turquoise produced from the Simmons mine, but it may have been in excess of $1 million; turquoise prices were high during the peak production, finished stones selling for $20 per karat. This estimate is also substantiated by the price Simmons is said to have received when he sold the mine.


During operation of the Simmons mine, numerous occurrences of turquoise were prospected for a radius of about a mile from the main mine area. Today the many prospects attest to the vigorous activity, but none appear to have yielded substantial amounts of turquoise."


NEVADA BUREAU OF MINES – Report 17 by Vernon E. Scheid, Director

Precious Stones

Turquoise; Precious stones have symbolic implications. For example, turquoise if a "collective term for all the precious stones, wealth, or mixed offerings. Good fortune is attributed to this stone." Both white shell and turquoise are emphasized in Kinaalda. Pg. 375

Kinaalda', A Study of the Navaho Girl's Puberty Ceremony; 1993, Charlotte Johnson Frisbie.

The clear, deep, robins-egg-blue turquoise they call male, and the stone of a greenish hue they call female. Pg. 230

The Navaho; 1946, Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton.

Whiteshell [yo lgai] designates the 'white from which beads are made.' It is one of the many examples in Navaho where the same word means a part or a whole, the material or the object manufactured from it. Whiteshell may refer to the thin, flat, white shell beads greatly treasured by the Navaho and often incorrectly called wampum by the whites. Formerly, the beads were made of a seashell, doubtless imported through trade from the west coast, probably from the Gulf of California.

According tla h's creation story, the spirit of whiteshell was placed inside Moon, which was composed of ice; the spirit of turquoise was put into Sun, that of Abalone into Black Wind, that of redstone into Yellow Wind. JS, speaking of the Shooting Chant, said Moon's house was whiteshell.

An indispensable requirement of a chant is the basket; at least one is believed to represent whiteshell. All the precious stones are mythical basket materials. Frequently the basket is of one stone with a contrasting rim - whiteshell rimmed with turquoise or the reverse; abalone rimmed with redstone or the reverse, jet with an abalone rim or the reverse. Bowls, though not as common as baskets, may be deific properties. White Body of the fourth world carried a bowl of whiteshell.

A song intoned at the preparation of the War Ceremony rattlestick refers to Child-of-the-water's queue as whiteshell.

Turquoise [do tliji], 'the-particular-one-which-is-blue,' may be the general collective term for all the precious stones, wealth, or mixed offerings. Good fortune is attributed to the stone. A few of the most unusual references to turquoise are as follows:

Sun gave one of his wonderful children a pair of turquoise earstrings to enable him to win at gambling.

The hair of a remarkable girl, desired by many suitors, was covered with images of coyote and birds of different kinds, all of turquoise; and she possessed a huge disk of turquoise.

Four rattles of buffalo hide are important equipment in the Shooting Chant. One explanation says they symbolize Big Snakes, another that they represent Sun's turquoise rattles.

Sun's son smoked a turquoise pipe, as did Frog.

Perhaps the most unusual allusion is that to First Woman, who, in the first world, was intrigued by a distant fire. When she got to it she found a man, who said, "Your fire is rock crystal; mine is turquoise." This identification was cited as a reason why the two should live together.

The Twins' bows and arrows are sometimes said to be of turquoise.

The reference to turquoise as symbolizing green vegetation in Coyote's first model of the world is interesting.

Changing Woman's home had a turquoise door, and four footprints of turquoise led to a turquoise room. Black Sky Man pulled her up with a cane of turquoise and she became a degree younger than she had been when the Sky People came to her. The cane corresponded with one she gave her wandering people with which they struck the desert and brought forth water.

A small but perfect turquoise bead and an olivella shell tied on a string make the bead token of the Shooting and Hail chants. Sun may be identified with whiteshell or with turquoise.


Abalone [di tcili] is 'the-particular-one-that-is-iridescent, the-one-whose-various-colors-scintillate'; the name probably derives from the stem -tcil, meaning 'tremble.' Abalone is associated with yellow and with Black Wind, whose house, according to JS. was of abalone.

Abalone was offered to Blue Crane to induce him to sing over Holy Man, who had become ill and weak after his many wanderings.


Jet [ba cdjini] is the black substance found in large deposits in the Southwest. A soft cannel coal with a structure that lends itself readily to carving, it takes a beautiful polish. Although jet is the jewel representing black, it is mentioned less frequently than the other jewels.

When the domesticated quadrupeds were brought into existence, a basket of jet edged with abalone and one of abalone rimmed with jet were mentioned. Many birds are now black because they ate of the eggs in the jet basket. The jewel symbol of the northern mountain [dibentsah] is jet.

At the time abalone was offered Blue Heron for his supernatural advice, a piece of jet was offered to a bird called tsih.

When Monster Slayer was knocked out for having drawn the figure of a person on the bull-roarer, Big Fly instructed him to make the offering for restoration by stringing pieces of jet as tassels of grass.


Native redstone [tseltci'] contains ferric coloring matter ranging from dull red to dark pink, often streaked with white. Some of it is probably carnelian. Coral, introduced by the Spanish, has become a substitute, even being called redstone. Examples of the role played by redstone have occurred in the discussion of red; others are the following:

After testing his sons, Sun led them to the edge of the world. There they saw sixteen poles extending from earth to sky - four of whiteshell, four of turquoise, four of abalone, and four of redstone. Sun asked them to choose which they would ascend on; Wind whispered that they should choose the red since they had come seeking war.

All jewels are closely associated with Sun's house, which they compose. Opposite it were five mountains - redstone, glittering, abalone, whiteshell, and turquoise - Sun's mountains, all harmless.

The rattles with which Sun tried to destroy his sons are mentioned in the order: turquoise, whiteshell, abalone, redstone.

Yellow Wind's house was of redstone [JS].

Among the canes furnished Earth People by Changing Woman was one of redstone.

It is doubtful that agate [no lyini] should be included among the precious stones. If we do, to be consistent we should include the other kinds of ceremonial flint, for agate belongs more properly with them than with precious stones. The following will explain the connection between flints and precious stones:

When Sun was convinced that The Twins were really his children, he placed a small agate man inside the body of Monster Slayer to identify him with Sun and make him invincible. A miniature man of turquoise became Child-of-the-water's corresponding symbol.

The stones of the sweathouse were of agate when Sun exposed his sons to the heat test; it was expected to destroy them. Although it exploded, the agate did not destroy The Twins because Talking God had dug a small hole into which they crawled, and had covered it with four white shells. When the test was over, the white shells turned into redstone, abalone, turquoise, and whiteshell.

An agate arrowpoint forms a part of the head bundle of some ceremonies. Fastened to the hair of a patient in the War Ceremony, it represents the flint points that fell from the breast of Big Monster when he was conquered.


Rock Crystal [tseya'tindi ni, nto li, tseso'] is usually not mentioned among the precious stones, but has many ceremonial usages. tseya'tindi ni means 'stone-through-which-light-beams'; nto li means 'the-particular-one-which-is-clear, -translucent.' In many rites it symbolizes fire, especially in the symbolical lighting of the prayersticks, which may contain tobacco. tseso', 'rock-star,' may mean glass as well as crystal.

A crystal was put inside the dark cloud in which Scavenger was enveloped to furnish him light.

At creation a rock crystal was put into the mouth of each person so that everything he said would come true, a probable reason why a crystal is part of many pollen bags, especially the personal ones carried for safety; the pollen represents well-being, the crystal the prayer - that is, the word that makes the prayer come true.

The glass cup holding the chant lotion of the Shooting Chant is a substitute for crystal.

Changing Woman had binoculars of rock crystal.

The line of crystal on Coyote's model of the world represented ice, the only association between crystal and ice I have found.

The basket for the emetic in the first War Ceremony was of crystal.

MIXED JEWELS, the tiny fragments of precious stones accompanying the prayersticks, often indicate that the reed or plant material of which they consist stands for the jewels. Similarly, the feathered wands of the Shooting Chant are substitutes for Sun's jewel arrows, as is the rattlestick of the War Ceremony. Sun's jewel arrows represent the Sun-Wind combination - turquoise for Sun, whiteshell for Moon, abalone for Black Wind, redstone for Yellow Wind; in the Night Chant, the jewels represent the Day Skies.

When the pot drum was prepared for the War Ceremony, the jewels stood for the 'floor of the drum's house,' into which the sounds were pounded.