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1940s Santo Domingo Thunderbird Necklace

1940s Santo Domingo Thunderbird Necklace


Santo Domingo Thunderbird Necklace Circa 1940.  


Born in the late 1920s, Thunderbird jewelry was partly a response to the increasing cost and scarcity of such traditional materials as shell and jet — and partly a response to seeing the new yet inexpensive Bakelite jewelry worn by so many visitors in the rapidly shrinking Depression-era tourist market.⁠

Soon the Santo Domingo Pueblo jewelry makers were meshing the nation's oldest native jewelry-making tradition with cheaper alternative materials, including black plastic salvaged from car batteries and 78-rpm vinyl records as well as colored plastic salvaged from hair combs, kitchenware and eating utensils.⁠

Since small turquoise chips remained readily available from local mines, the newly created Thunderbird form offered the jewelry makers a way to cut costs dramatically while still retaining one of the signature materials of an age-old tradition. ⁠


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