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Why Jewelry is a Focus of Native American Culture
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Why Jewelry is a Focus of Native American Culture

Whether you’re sporting a needlepoint Zuni turquoise ring or squash blossom style necklace from Navajo jewelry tradition, owning a piece of Native American jewelry means participating in a culturally and historically rich artform. With origins back to the Paleo-Indian era, Native American jewelry has played a hugely significant role in Native American culture.

Read on to learn a bit more about the history of Native American jewelry, why it’s so significant, and how jewelry styles differ between Native American communities.

Significance of Native American Jewelry

The practice of jewelry making in Native American tribes dates back thousands of years and is heavily influenced by relationship to the land, reflective of tribal histories and legends, and also heavily related to religious beliefs and spiritual practices. Historically, owning jewelry played a significant role for Indigenous communities because jewelry was one of the few easily transportable indications of wealth and status, something which was particularly useful for nomadic communities.

The wealth of an individual could be demonstrated by their adornment, making it a prominent way to depict class and social rank within tribes. Jewelry also played a hugely important role in trade between tribes, and this was a route through which many different techniques and jewelry crafting practices were shared.

Different Types of Pueblo Jewelry Traditions

One of the most exciting aspects of Native American jewelry collection is that different tribes have different jewelry-making styles and origins that can be differentiated through their unique artistry and craftsmanship. Below are a few examples:

  • The Navajo Peoplesare known for their skillful silver craftsmanship and can be identified by the expert way in which they work to shape the silver around stones such as turquoise, black onyx, and malachite for their rings, necklaces, and bracelets.
  • Traditional Zuni techniques showcase the expert cutting and shaping of different types of stones, a skill that is also demonstrated in the expert shaping of stone fetishes.
  • Hopi jewelry also showcases artistry in silversmithing, however unlike the Navajo, Hopi styles often consist of just silver by itself with intricate overlaid patterns on rings and cuffs adorned with a characteristic silver sheen.

Purchasing Your Jewelry

When purchasing a piece of Native American jewelry, it’s extremely important to check the providence of the piece you’re about to buy and confirm its authenticity. The market is flush with knockoffs; however, any reputable retailer will be able to affirm the origins of the piece you’re about it buy. Also, make sure to ask about what sort of treatment the stones in your jewelry might have had. Whether the stone has been treated with stabilizing solutions or color boosting chemicals, vendors are legally required to disclose this information.

At Palms Trading Company, we have many beautiful and authentic pieces of Native American jewelry which will be sure to turn heads and add value to any jewelry collection. In order to make sure you are getting a piece that matches perfectly with what you’re looking for, we also have a personal shopper service to support you with your purchase. Contact us today and find your own unique piece of beautiful Native American jewelry!