American Indian jewelry has deep historical meaning and is very unique. While the jewelry making styles were different in each American Indian tribe, the differences were really not that great. Each tribe had access to the same tools and materials that were used in making jewelry. While most of the materials and tools were made from “nature” others were acquired through trading with the Europeans. The two general styles of American Indian jewelry that were made include beadwork and metalwork.

Prior to the Europeans settling into the New World, metalwork jewelry was made by American Indians through hammering and by etching copper. Once American Indians learned silversmithing, American Indian jewelry became very detailed, intricate, unique and distinctive.

Unlike metalwork jewelry, beadwork jewelry was very advanced prior to the Europeans arriving in the New World. Bead making was a fine art and pieces of jewelry with thousands of beads were common. Beads were made of turquoise, shell beads, wood, bone and coral.

If you are looking to purchase American Indian Jewelry, you should know that the best jewelry is not imitation. You should look for American Indian Jewelry that is authentic and made in the United States. This jewelry is made by individuals who understand the detailed, unique and intricate markings and handiwork of American Indian Jewelry. Through their work these jewelry makers (both American Indians and Anglos) are continuing to carry on the history of the American Indians.

Since the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, you can be assured that any jewelry that is advertised as authentic American Indian will be authentic. It is illegal for anyone to sale any craft or piece of art (like jewelry) and say that it is from a particular tribe or tribe member unless it was actually created by a tribe member or a certified Indian artisan.

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