Buying a piece of traditional Native American jewelry means you’ll be sporting not just a fashion statement, but a true piece of art. Whether you’re wearing a set of earrings handcrafted by a Zuni artist, or a squash blossom necklace crafted in traditional Navajo style, you’ll be supporting a rich cultural history of jewelry making which dates back to the Paleo-Indian era. Read on to learn more about different traditional types of Native American jewelry to give you some more info before you make your next purchase!
Necklaces & Pendants
When it comes to necklaces, some of the most common materials used are turquoise, spiny oyster, coral, and other semi-precious stones such as garnet. Many necklaces also include other natural elements such as animal bones or teeth, pieces of antler, or even feathers. Maybe you’re interested in a more traditional piece such as the squash blossom necklace, with a bead pattern down both sides which mimics blossoming, all leading towards the horseshoe center pattern known as the Naja which is created to ward off evil. Or perhaps a Navajo style bird pendant is more to your liking. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you do your research and check that your piece is authentic and emerging from true Native American craftspeople!
If you’re looking for an interesting and highly detailed piece of jewelry, then purchasing a Zuni style carved fetish piece might be perfect for you. Fetish pieces showcase unparalleled craftsmanship and are comprised of one or many small stone animal figures which can be strung on a necklace or bracelet or set into rings.
Bracelets & Cuffs
Another incredible jewelry piece common among Native American artists is the cuff style bracelet. Some cuffs are larger with bold colors and a broad surface which is ideal for incorporating stones and metals. Cuffs can also sometimes come in smaller, more delicately sized pieces if you’re looking for something a bit more understated. In terms of materials, in addition to turquoise, many Pueblo artists use stones such as coral and spiny oyster when handcrafting their bracelets.
Whether you’re purchasing the jewelry for yourself or someone else, make sure you speak with the salesperson to verify its authenticity. Your salesperson should be knowledgeable about the history of the jewelry they sell as well as the artists and can help you choose the right piece. At Palms Trading Company, we would be more than happy to show you some of the incredible Native American jewelry art we have to offer. You can work with our personal shopper service to find exactly what you need, or give us a call and ask us any questions you might have!