So, you’re interested in buying a beautiful piece of southwestern Native American jewelry, but want to know a bit more about its origins? Well, you’re in luck! The rich culture and tradition of Native American jewelry crafting is chock full of some interesting distinctions which can help you identify where your jewelry comes from. Check out some of these tips for distinguishing between Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni jewelry, and learn more about traditional Native American jewelry design below!
Many of the traditional southwest Native American craftspeople were masters when it comes to sterling silver work in jewelry. If your piece is characterized by expertly shaped sterling silver surrounding the stones attached, then there’s a good chance its origins are Navajo. On the other hand, if your piece displays expertly cut stones to fit into the silver foundations, then it might just be of Zuni origins. The Hopi Peoples are also master silversmiths, and their jewelry often encompasses only sterling silver and showcases beautiful raised silver patterns with darker colored linework.
Another great way to distinguish between the different southwestern Native American tribal origins is by paying close attention to the hallmark that is often carved into the piece. The hallmark is normally a symbol or distinctive feature embedded into the underside of the jewelry, and luckily there is tons of literature floating around online to help you identify what the hallmark is and what tribe the piece originates from.
The size and patterns of the stones in your piece is another great way to help identify where it comes from. If your jewelry has lots of silver and large unshaped stones, there’s a good chance it’s a Navajo piece. If it has smaller expertly cut stones, clusters of stones, or stone inlay, then there’s a good chance it might be a Zuni piece. No stones at all but lots of beautiful silverwork, then chances are you might be looking at a Hopi piece. If you’re looking at some sort of adornment with intricately carved animals, then this might just be a piece of jewelry showcasing Zuni fetish carvings, which are thought to bring luck, power, and protection to those who carry them.
Identifying the origins of your Native American jewelry can sometimes be a challenge, however, the most important thing is to make sure your piece is authentic. At Palms Trading Company, we sell exquisite and authentic Native American jewelry through our partnerships with skilled Native American artisans. We even offer personal shopping services so you can find the perfect piece to fit your own personal style, or to give to a loved one as a gift. Get in touch with us today, and we would love to help you find the perfect piece of wearable Native American art!