The Inuit people once lived along the northwest portion of the United States and in parts of Canada. Throughout history these people were known as Eskimos, but the term Inuit was adopted when Eskimo was deemed a derogatory term. It encompasses those people whose ancestry includes Eskimo people. The traditional jewelry designs used by these people are still being used today.
Inuit jewelry was often made out of materials that the people had on hand. Whale and fishbone were quite popular and at one point they used quite a bit of ivory. Laws in place today no longer allow for the sale or use of ivory, which led modern day artists to switch to different materials. They use plastic resins and other materials that mimic the look of traditional ivory and often used pale woods in their designs.
Silver is another component often found in Inuit jewelry, especially in the modern day. Silver serves as both a major component or as an accent piece. A choker for example might be made entirely of silver, while a longer necklace only uses silver as an accent when mixed with other colors and metals. They also used some beads made from shells.
Resources on this type of jewelry include:
- Eskimo Traditional Dress: shows images of traditional Inuit dress, including their jewelry.
- Home & Away Gallery: retailer of Inuit jewelry and art created by tribesmen.
- Inuit Jewelry Collection: offers photographs and details on different jewelry created by Inuit artists and designers.
- Inuit Art Jewelry: provides details on a specific type of silver jewelry created by these people.
- Inuit Art Jewelry: retailer who specializes in his own Inuit style jewelry, especially in sterling silver.
The unique thing about Inuit jewelry is that it tends to use only a few shades. Black, white and red were the primary colors and even modern day artists rarely deviate from that palette. They often mixed all three colors together such as creating a red and black design on a piece of ivory. It made for a shocking and unexpected look when used together. These pieces, both the traditional and modern day jewelry are highly sought after and collected today.