Indian Jewelry

The history of Indian jewelry dates back to ancient times. Historians have found evidence of turquoise jewelry created by tribes in Arizona around 200 BC and Mexican Indian jewelry dating back to 600 BC. These pieces often involved tribesmen carving the turquoise into different shapes and drilling a hole through one side to string along a cord. They also created turquoise and wood earrings and jewelry made from shell or rock.

Historians believe that the Navajo helped spread the craft of creating jewelry. The tribe was quite adept at creating jewelry, especially silver and turquoise pieces. This nomadic tribe moved frequently and were known for conquering other tribes and groups. They even picked up the idea for some of their more popular pieces from Spanish settlements they raided.

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The dominant tribes still creating Indian jewelry are the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni. The Zuni and Hopi tribes lived in the southwest and picked up some of their ideas from the Navajo. In the early days they used materials like bone and shell in their designs. They also used copper and a type of aluminum. However they later shifted over to silver and by the end of the 1880s silver was the dominant material used in jewelry.

Modern day Indian jewelry mimics the look of traditional pieces. Turquoise set in silver is quite popular, especially in larger pieces like necklaces. The squash blossom necklace created by the Hopi tribe is also extremely popular. Generally speaking, the older pieces are significantly more expensive than the modern day pieces because of their rarity. Those interested in purchasing Native American jewelry though will be pleasantly surprised at how many authentic artists are still working in this medium.





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