Navajo Jewelry

Native Americans loved to adorn themselves and jewelry played a big part of their culture. Bracelets made of shell and carved into snakes and frogs were worn to represent fertility, beautiful beads also called Heishi, and even jewelry made from straps of leather were common among tribes. While all tribes decorated themselves with beautiful jewelry, the Navajo Indians learned how to become silversmiths from the Mexicans and brought the art home to their tribe. They frequently used silver and turquoise, which quickly became the main materials used in Navajo jewelry.

Turquoise was frequently used with other materials before the Navajos learned how to use silver in their jewelry. It was paired with shells and other stones to make necklaces. Wood was often used to make the stones into earrings. In the late 1800's the Spanish toured the southwest bringing with the art of turning silver into jewelry. The Navajo Indians were the first tribe to learn this art and from then one paired turquoise with the silver to expand their jewelry into beautiful bracelets, rings, and even belts. They used Spanish and U.S. coins to create their jewelry. Preferably Spanish coins because the silver was easier to mold. Sometimes when trading other items they would receive things like candlesticks that could easily be melted down to make jewelry.

Navajo jewelry may be more described as art rather than jewelry. It is known and coveted worldwide. While turquoise is an important part of the jewelry, the Navajos can take pride in the beautifully designed ornate detail in the silver itself. The beautiful pieces the create not only are meant for accessories, but some have meaning as well. There are even pieces themselves that actually tell an entire story.

There are many people who have a great respect for Navajo jewelry, thus, the popularity of it has carried throughout the years. From simple pieces to more elaborate pieces, like squash blossom necklaces, the popularity of this jewelry has lasted well over a century. Navajo Indians will always be known for the beautiful works of art they have hand crafted over the years.

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