Native American Earrings
Native American earrings can be made form a myriad of media including silver, coral, onyx, turquoise, and opals but may include any number of precious and semi-precious stones. The most rudimentary earrings are made from bear teeth, porcupine quills and beads, but master earring makers use silver and inlaid stones to create their works of art. The silver is usually used in pieces that are soldered together to make a full relief or earring design. They are attached to a ring and then soldered as well. A few rings may be made using a forging process but predominantly the rings are made in pieces and then assembled. Intricate designs are made by using small and thin pieces of metal and working them into shape by hand using small tools and instruments.
Different symbols are used in the making of jewelry in all Native American tribes. A symbol that looks like a fan in a circle carries the meaning of four ages or infancy, youth, middle age and old age. This symbolizes the rise and fall of all things; the belief that all things start and finish. The fence symbol is used as a guarding symbol and is believed to help protect the wearer. Bear tracks symbolize good omens while the butterfly is a sign of everlasting life. These symbols may be etched into the metal or represented by the stones used in their creation. Stones that most often adorn the rings include coral and turquoise but corals and opals are also often used. Different symbols may be used in conjunction for other meanings and uses.
Earrings of the Native Americans can be found more predominantly in areas of high Native American populations. Alaska has the highest population of Native Americans at 13% of the population. This area of the country boasts one of the highest rates of retained culture among the Native Americans. New Mexico and South Dakota also have very high concentrations of Native Americans and a large majority of art and jewelry come from these regions. Just behind these two states are Arizona, Oklahoma, Montana and North Dakota with close to or above 5% population rates.