Native American Indian Jewelry
Authentic Native American Jewelry Made in the USA.
"Indian Jewelry" is a term that brings to mind the silver and turquoise jewelry of the Navajo and Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest. Crafts people from the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi and Santo Domingo tribes have gained a worldwide reputation for the unique jewelry. In addition to the pieces fashioned by these people, many fine examples of jewelry are also created by members of other Indian tribes. Southwestern Indians have worn jewelry made from pieces of shell, turquoise and other materials for centuries.
Navajo Indian Jewelry
The jewelry we think of as "Indian" began to evolve about 100 years ago. The Navajo were the first to produce jewelry that required the working of metal. Their love of metal working can be traced to the Spanish arrival in the Southwest. The major characteristic of Navajo jewelry today is the emphasis on metal work. The Navajo jewelry is designed to fit the stones. Stamp work, leaves and feathers fashioned of sterling silver are used to accent turquoise and other stones.
Zuni Indian Jewelry
The Zuni Indians learned to silversmith from the Navajo in the early 1870's. The Zuni Indians, because they had permanent homes unlike the nomadic Navajo Indians, were able to use many tools that the Navajo could not easily carry with them. Using the lapidary wheels they began cutting stones and using the silver to hold their stones in patterns. Today, Zuni silversmiths are known for their lapidary skills. Channel inlay (using precisely cut stones set on silver to form figures and designs), cluster and needlepoint (setting small, similarly cut stones in geometric patterns) are traditional Zuni jewelry styles. Their beautiful jewelry is known worldwide by these traditional Native American Styles.
Hopi Indian Jewelry
The first Hopi Indian silversmiths apparently learned the craft from a Zuni Indian silversmith. A regular trade route existed between the two Pueblos. Hopi Indian jewelry is most often made without stones. They use a technique known as overlay. A design is cut out of one sheet of silver and then soldered to another sheet as backing. The depressions create designs which are darkened. The silver is then bent into the form of the piece of jewelry desired, a bracelet for example. The outer layer of the piece is then polished, leaving the design dark. Animals play a large part in the Hopi religion and animal-like designs and ancient pottery designs are typical themes in Hopi Indian Jewelry.
Santo Domingo Indian Jewelry
The Santo Domingo people do little metalworking. For centuries, they have fashioned necklaces of stone, shell and wood. Today, modern equipment has made the working of these same materials a fine art form. Their jewelry is characterized by the making of round beads from turquoise, coral, shell and other materials which are strung together into strands for necklaces and earrings. The most common beads are called heishi (he-she). these are disks or tubes with a hole in the center. They are strung together to form a flexible strand and are often of graduated size. It is not uncommon to fid pieces of coral or turquoise nuggets strung with the heishi, or simply strand of polished turquoise nuggets.