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Ties, Tails & Toggles

Monday, 24 April 2017 10:00:00 AM Australia/Sydney

Our favourite casual jewellery trend is suddenly hotter than ever!

There’s something irresistibly nonchalant about a jewellery design based on a humble piece of string or rope, but fashioned from precious metal. It’s the ultimate in luxe casual, meaning it’s perfect for easy weekend wear, work wear and so many occasions beyond.

Of course, we’re talking about lariat necklacestoggle bracelets and all related jewellery styles featuring tails, ties and sliding clasps.

A fresh take on the trend

You might remember when the lariat trend first hit back in the nineties – there was an emphasis on ornate costume styles, leather cords, pretty floral motifs and chunky semi-precious beads. Similarly, toggle bracelets often featured an elasticised string of amethyst or quartz beads and were designed to bring restorative properties to the wearer.  

NAJO’s current take on this updated trend is far more streamlined, modern and understated, reflecting the ongoing obsession with barely there jewellery.

All about the toggle

Just to be clear, the kind of “toggle” clasp we’re talking about isn’t what’s known at NAJO as the t-bar closure, but rather the sliding bead design that allows the bracelet to be secured at a variety of lengths.

The name comes from the nautical world, where that type of adjustable, sliding closure served a practical purpose to secure the drawstring ties on clothing worn at sea. In NAJO’s sterling silver toggle jewellery, this design feature is both practical and aesthetic, the slight nod to nautical style making it a perfect complement to a Breton-striped boatneck t-shirt and jeans.

The lure of the lariat

Another ‘twist’ on the rope design reference, a lariat is traditionally a necklace in the style of a lasso, with one end threading through the other and hanging down the wearer’s chest. Another version with two loose ends is our high-end take on the current bolo-tie jewellery trend – except entirely made in lustrous sterling silver. It’s a long-line look best worn with a plunging neckline for evening or a simple round-neck t-shirt for day. 

Fashion’s latest obsession: bolo tie

The bolo tie is a traditional garment dating back to the American West, but today’s fashionable folks are interpreting the style in a thoroughly contemporary way. At NAJO, our tie necklaces feature two-tone beads in sterling silver and yellow gold plate, freshwater pearl tails, or a string of round silver baubles with a sliding bead clasp. These are pieces born to layer with shorter pendants, or pair with more of your favourite sterling silver and two-tone bracelets, stacked high for carefree style.

One thing’s clear about our lariat necklaces and toggle bracelets – they have never been more popular. Not only do they adjust to fit everyone, they are right on trend and look great worn every day.

Shop our lariat and toggle style jewellery now >>

Posted in Collections By The Najo Collective

Taxco, the heart of Mexican silversmithing

Monday, 17 April 2017 4:10:00 PM Australia/Sydney

Think they don’t make things like they used to? Good news! The tradition of silversmithing is alive in Mexico.

Still made by hand, still made in Mexico

Today, NAJO’s Mexican sterling silver jewellery is still handcrafted in the workshops of Taxco, southwest of Mexico City. This is where the NAJO story began 30 years ago, and where the rich tradition of Mexican silversmithing began much earlier.

Those were the days… of Mexican silver

Taxco’s extensive silver reserves were discovered by the Spanish as early as the 16th century, although the mining town only really became world-famous as an artisan centre for silversmithing in the 1930s, when William Spratling set up what would become the first of the Grand Workshops.

Taxco’s Grand Workshops

Along with Spratling’s Las Delicias, Taxco’s grand workshops comprised Margot’s, Los Castillo and Antonio Pineda. Together, these workshops employed thousands of silversmiths in Taxco in the 1930s and 1940s and firmly established the town as a must-visit destination for jewellery enthusiasts and artistic types. By the time NAJO founder Jo Tory first visited in the 1980s, as she recalls, “just about every local family worked in silver and had workshops in their homes.”

The ‘grand’ has gone, but the skills remain

Taxco today is very different to its heyday. Workshops have reduced dramatically in both number and size. And yet the skills and knowledge passed down through generations of apprentices are still to be found by those who are willing to seek it out.

The people behind the pieces

Over the decades, NAJO has built strong personal relationships with individual Taxco silversmiths, who masterfully maintain and execute the time-honoured techniques behind some of our most popular designs.

Silversmith Jesus Hernandez handcrafts our enduring Naj ‘O’ Bangle, using the technique of die stamping. In this method, a sheet of sterling silver is pressed into a concave die so that it reproduces the shape of the die. The pieces are then hand soldered together to form the distinctive ‘O’ bangle, and hand-polished to a gleaming, bright white finish.

 Meanwhile, master silversmith Señor Melesio uses the intricate repoussé technique – along with his 68 years of experience – to handcraft our show-stopping Abanico Necklace. Repoussé involves meticulously working the metal from the back side by hand to produce a motif in low relief. For added drama, the traditional pattern is then accentuated with oxidation.

 There’s something a little magical about knowing these techniques have hardly changed over generations, and that, even today, NAJO’s made-in-Mexico jewellery continues to preserve the noble legacy of Taxco silversmiths.

Shop NAJO’s complete collection of Mexican-made sterling silver jewellery now >>

Posted in Heritage By The Najo Collective

What makes silver so ‘sterling’?

Monday, 10 April 2017 1:00:00 AM Australia/Sydney

A silver-lover’s basic guide to this far-from-base metal

Pure, luxe, lustrous silver is one of the world’s most precious materials. But just like pure gold, it is too soft on its own to fashion into modern, wearable jewellery, and needs to be alloyed with another metal for strength.

The origins of sterling

All NAJO jewellery is crafted from high-quality sterling silver, which comprises precisely 92.5% silver as denoted by the “925” stamp you’ll see on every piece. The remaining 7.5% of metal is usually copper, which adds strength without detracting from silver’s naturally spectacular shine, colour and malleability.

Many people associate the name “sterling” with the British currency, and for good reason: one Pound Sterling was once worth 240 silver pennies, or equivalent to one pound in weight of silver. The specific 92.5% ratio required for sterling silver dates all the way back to 1158, when Henry II made this the legal standard required for all British coinage. There were plenty of challenges to this standard over the ensuing centuries, but even today, 925 is the magic number for all the finest silver jewellery in the world.

Why choose sterling

Unlike other ‘silver’ coloured metals, non-sterling silver or silver-coated brass, NAJO’s collection of sterling silver is durable, highly polished, relatively lightweight and easy to wear. It’s also much brighter and whiter than other precious metals such as platinum or gold. In fact, silver’s chemical symbol, Ag, comes from its Latin name “argentum” from the Greek argós, which literally means “shining white, bright, glistening”.

Where does silver come from?

Mexico has long been the world’s largest silver-producing country, and given NAJO’s deep roots there, it’ll come as little surprise that some of our finest sterling silver is still sourced in Mexico. Today, NAJO carries fine sterling silver pieces sourced from all over the world. Did you know that Australia is also naturally rich in silver? BHP Billiton’s Cannington Mine in north-west Queensland is the world’s largest single source of silver.

Sterling silver & TLC

Yes, all sterling silver tarnishes, especially when exposed to salt air, humidity and sulphur – found in rubber bands and some paper. The best prevention for tarnish is to wear your sterling silver jewellery regularly (although not while swimming, showering or cleaning), and to store it carefully the rest of the time. A dry, soft-lined jewellery box is ideal, and if your climate is humid, a small sachet of silica gel crystals can also help.

A lot of NAJO sterling silver is anti-tarnished to help prevent oxidation and add to the metal’s naturally bright and glossy appearance. To clean your jewellery, wipe it over with a soft silver polishing cloth or try a silver polish or foam, but avoid using silver dip.

Shop NAJO’s extensive range of beautiful quality sterling silver jewellery now >>

Posted in Heritage By The Najo Collective