Understanding Indian Jewelry Styles

There is something about Native American jewelry that transends all cultures! It's simply the most wonderful and sought after jewelry in the world. Most Native Americans, especially the Navajo And Santo Domingo orginally made jewelry for themsleves and other members of their tribes and they have been doing this for hundreds of years. It's important for other cultures to understand that Native Americans did not believe in the concept of land ownership and that land belongs to Mother Earth with all humans given the right to use it in a respectful manner. It was not until the White Man took by force almost all Native American lands that Native Americans adopted the concept of land ownership. However, Native Americans today who live on Indian Reservations still believe in a sort of share and share alike when it comes to the use of their lands. Most do not consider building huge private homes something that is important. Their jewelry, clothing and adornment to them, becomes sort of their symbol of wealth.

While there has been a blend of various styles of Indian jewelry among Native Americans, certain tribes are know for certain styles. It's important to understand that these styles are someone easy to recognize, the style of jewelry can not longer be used to claim a certain style was made by a certain tribe as there has been a blending and copying of these styles from one Native American nation to another. It is, important to understand the basic jewelry styles so you have an idea of the different types of Native American jewelry and how they are made. Here is a basic outline.

Navajo Traditional Jewelry
Navajos are known worldwide for their bold Sliver, Turquoise And Red Coral Jewelry. Combining hand done sliver, leaf work and silver stampings with turquoise and coral stones, Navajo Traditional Jewelry is highly prized and popular. It's easy to identify. To review various types of Navajo Tradtional Jewelry, Click here.

Zuni Inlay Jewelry
The Zuni style is very fine hand cut and colorful stones often called Inlay. Hand cutting various stones to develop a design that is set in sterling silver is a time consuming process that requires great skill. To review various types of Zuni jewelry, click here.

Hopi Overlay Jewelry
The Hopi are known and famous for a process called Overlay which consists of fusing two pieces of sliver together. The bottom is often blackened and the top done with cut-put designs. When these two pieces are fused together, a contrasting two dimensional design occurs.
To review various types of Hopi overlay work, click here.

Santo Domingo HeiShi And Shell Jewelry
The Santo Domingo Pueblo people are well known for handmade shell jewelry. Hand rolled shell is often called Heishi. THis is done in a time consummer manner. Various shells are collected and then drilled. The shells are then strung and rolled into a smooth surface. By mixing different colors of shell, these necklaces and chokers become highly colorful. Notice the third piece from the right which has a Thunderbird at the bottom. This is called depression era jewelry and it is made from old records with stones set on the front of the record. This type of jewelry was made by the Santo Domingos during a time when sliver was very hard to obtain. These types of pieces are still being made and highly popular today.
To review various types of Heishi And Shell Jewelry , click here.

Bone Chokers
Although many Native American Nations wear and still make bone chokers, the Apache And Lakota tribes are likely the most famous for them. Originally made from various bones and strung together with leather and other various cord, this type of adornment is universally known as American Indian. Today, some of this style of jewelry is not made with bone at all but various types of long hollow beads. They are decorated in a number of different ways. Some are plain while others are very elaborate and hand down almost like a short breastplate. Bone Chokers have much meaning and an interesting history. To learn more about them, click here.

Chip Inlay Jewelry
During the early 1970's Turquoise And Sliver Jewelry Native American jewelry soared in popularity worldwide. Because of that, jewelry makers around the world started to duplicate the designs of Native Americans and flood the market place. In order to compete with lower pricing, famous Navajo silversmith Tommy Singer came up with a process called chip inlay. It uses small pieces of turquoise and coral inlayed with epoxy which makes a very attractive design. Chip inlay is still highly popular today.

New Style Indian Jewelry
In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Native American jewelry took a new turn with fine jewelry makers such as Charles Loma, Leo Yazzie, Ben Nighthorse And Alvin Yellowhorse. Combining both gold and sliver along with very fine gemstones such as finer and rarer cuts of turquoise, lapis and other fine gemstones, Indian Jewelry developed into a high end art. Today, New Indian jewelry is still developing. One of our favorite artists is Leo Yazzie, a Navajo. You can click here to review some Leo Yazzie pieces.

Liquid Silver Jewelry
Liquid Silver is done from hand strung sterling silver tubes and is very time consuming to do. It became a range in the 1970's and is still popular today. It is done much like HeiShi is done in that various types of embelishments and drops can be stung on these wonderful necklaces. To review some Tribal Impressions Liquid Silver Jewlery click here.

 

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Featured Top Name Artists:
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|
Effie Calavaza| Marina Raye | Robert Marabal | Brule & Airo |

Click For Videos You'll Enjoy That Pop Up In Smaller Window:
| Rare Video Of Hopi Eagle Dance | Earth Drum Music Video | Navajo Pride | History |
| The Apache | The Indian Spirit | Tour Of Taos Pueblo | Pow Wow |

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