The Real Value of Old Pawn Jewelry Back in the days when cash machines and banks were few and far between, or not trusted by traditional folk, items of jewelry were often used as reserve wealth for emergency times of need. In many countries, particularly in Asia, nearly pure gold is still used both to adorn the wearer and as instant currency of a fixed value. Although pawn shops themselves are very twentieth-century, the act of pawning one’s valuables in times of need is a very old tradition around the world. In Native American culture, the silver and turquoise bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings were used and are today referred to as ‘old pawn jewelry.’
Old pawn jewelry served its families over many generations. Although each piece had special value to its owners and was cherished for other-thanmonetary reasons, one of its main uses was to serve as an emergency deposit when needs arose. There is also talk of such items of jewelry having healing properties and bringing good luck. With so few true Native Americans left in North America, most of the wonderful jewelry created and worn by elders, working adults and children of the tribes has found its way into the traded market. Some of it, referred to as ‘dead pawn’ was traded for goods, services or lent money and, after the contract date passed, was sold to redeem its value to the trader, who often only cared for its financial worth. Old pawn jewelry may or may not have gone through the system the same way, but it still exists in today’s turquoise and silver markets in North America and around the world. As the generations of true Native Americans became diluted by immigrant genes, and as the modern world of material values and cash changed the ideas of many, these wonderful pieces of artwork may have lost some of their traditional value and been discarded and supernatural nonsense. However, there are still those out there who appreciate the true worth of these items of jewelry and offer them for sale to collectors around the world.
One must be careful when appraising old pawn jewelry to make sure of its true age and origins. Newer pieces are often cleaner and made with less silver, causing them to weigh less than older pieces. The best examples of old pawn jewelry are those which have not been cleaned, but can show the wear that they have endured over the years. If only these items of jewelry could speak and tell of the stories they have witnessed and been part of over the years. See more jewelry at www.silverplumegallery.com.au