The Broke Girl’s Guide To Authentic Turquoise

So you’re a western-obsessed girl on a budget – you’ve managed your way through thrift stores and boutique sales to get the clothes you really want, but what do you do about a lacking turquoise collection?

Have you ever heard the phrase, right person, wrong time? I feel like I’ve played this life situation out so many times, but with turquoise jewelry. (yes, I’m totally serious right now, don’t judge.) There’s nothing like walking through a jewelry gallery and laying eyes on that perfect piece, only to have your heart broken by the price tag.

But don’t worry, there are ways to support native artists, be apart of the western jewelry community and invest in real stones and silver, without breaking the bank. The tips I’m sharing are all from personal experience and a few years of collecting. Keep reading to see what I recommend!

 

BUY VINTAGE.

For some of you, this may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s something I definitely overlooked in the beginning. If you’re on a budget, your best bet at finding a cool piece in your price range is to shop vintage. Personally, the vintage pieces in my collection are my favorite simply because they have so much history and are timeless.

You can find incredible stuff from estate sales, on Ebay or at a flea market for a fraction of gallery costs on a similar new piece. However, don’t forget to do your research: you’ll want to search for pieces that are sterling silver to ensure they’ll stand the test of time.

 

START SMALL.

When you first start your turquoise addiction, I know it’s hard to resist the urge to jump into the deep end of the pool looking for a huge squash blossom or statement cuff. If you’re not in the market for a splurge, start by collecting smaller pieces like rings, pendants or earrings. Not only are they easier on the wallet most of the time, but you can also leverage those small pieces to trade up to a statement piece you REALLY want.

If you invest in quality pieces, you’ll have a great shot at finding a buyer for them if you ever decide to sell or trade for other things. I’ll give you a recent example: I bought a small, vintage squash blossom on Ebay that I paired with another small piece I acquired earlier in the year. I traded both of them for a squash blossom I was completely head over heels for, and ended up saving around $650.00. It’s really just a waiting game and being smart with where you put your money.

 

LAYER SMALL PIECES.

While I’m totally obsessed with the huge statement pieces (aren’t we all?) my collection is still mostly made up on smaller rings, pendants and necklaces. Of course it would be nice to put on one GIANT piece and be done, you can create so many different looks by layering your small pieces together.

I love to mix single-strand necklaces with bolos and petite squash blossoms, or stack rings and bracelets until there’s no room left on my hands. You will still look stunning and can constantly change up the look by swapping pieces. I personally like to look at it as a style challenge: what can I create that I haven’t done before?

 

DON’T WASTE MONEY ON FAUX.

I’m sure I’ll ruffle a few feathers with this one, but don’t buy fake turquoise. If your ultimate goal is to acquire a real, $1800.00 squash blossom, why are you spending $150.00 on one that has no investment value or artistic character? I get it – the look is in, and everyone wants to rock a huge squash, but there’s more to it.

When you buy fake turquoise, you take away business from jewelry artisans and native people who have been perfecting their craft for generations. It’s impossible for them to compete with fast-fashion and Chinese manufacturing, plus it devalues their original designs that are being knocked off. If you love the culture, make a point to support it too – even if that means waiting awhile to rock your dream squash. I promise it will feel so much better when you’re wearing that piece you’ve been dying over forever knowing it’s 100% authentic.

 

SHOP PAWN.

Being from the midwest, it took a trip to Texas and a few good tips on where to shop for me to have my pawn shop epiphany. Obviously, you can’t walk into any pawn shop looking for turquoise, but if and when you’re in the right area, it’s worth the pit stop.

There are pawn shops throughout the southwest where you’ll find gorgeous pieces for a total steal. Plus, if you find one you like, it’s totally acceptable to bargain. I don’t know about you, but I love the adrenaline of a good haggle.

 

FOLLOW YOUR FAVORITE ARTISANS.

I’ve made a point to follow my favorite makers all over social media, even if I’m admiring from afar most of the time. So many have their own pages and even VIP groups you can join if you’re a diehard fanatic, where you get first dibs on new items or a heads up on sales.

Even if the merch is too expensive for your regular budget, you never know when you might be sitting on a pile of cash just in time for a sale on that piece you’ve been needing in your life. Besides being in-the-know on sales and new things hitting their shop, it’s an added bonus to be able to have the inside scoop and interact with artists you look up to. How cool, right?

 

JOIN TURQUOISE TRADING GROUPS.

This was a game changer for me while hunting for the perfect next piece for my collection. There are SO many turquoise traders on social media who have already done the hard work of finding amazing pieces and are posting them in one place for a fair price. I have a few favorite traders you can find on Facebook:

Cholla’s Turquoise

Rowdy Cowgirl’s Jewelry Closet

Texas Gals Turquoise

Also, if you’re joining a swap page, some folks are just looking to clean out their personal collections or trade for something they like more, so you’re able to put your own goods out for sale or swap as well. It’s so fun to be apart of the western jewelry community and interact with other people who love the art as much as you do – you’ll probably learn a lot too!

 

I hope these tips were helpful for all you turquoise-obsessed ladies out there. Remember, don’t be discouraged because you can’t afford what other girls are buying – just be savvy about your purchases and you’ll be rocking what you’ve got, I guarantee it!

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