Native American jewelry items were frequently worn by both men and women of the tribe. It was not uncommon to see earrings, bracelets, necklaces, or hair pieces on members of either sex. Early tribes were very resourceful in their jewelry making. Various materials including glass, stone, metal, shells, and bone were used to design highly decorative jewelry pieces. Today these same kinds of jewelry items are bought by collectors worldwide.
When shopping for Native American jewelry, you will often see items made from turquoise. Several tribes including the Apache, Hopi, and Navaho commonly used turquoise in their jewelry making. This stone was believed to have various sources of power among the tribes. Medicine men regularly used turquoise for its numerous healing powers.
Beads are another item frequently used to make jewelry. The beads may be strung or glued onto the piece. They are generally composed of different types of shells and stones. Authentic Native American jewelry items will always contain handmade beads.
Once the material has been chosen for the jewelry, the stone or shells are cut into smaller pieces. Holes are then drilled though the material. After drilling, the beads are shaped through the use of a turning stone. Additional fine tuning is done through the use of sand paper. Leather is then used to polish the beads, giving them an attractive glossy appearance.
The history of using silver to manufacture Native American jewelry dates back to the mid 1800’s. Native American tribes are believed to have learned the silversmith trade from the Spanish. The Navaho and Hopi tribes were exceptionally skilled in the art of silver jewelry styles. Today there are several types of jewelry handcrafted from silver. The metal may be stamped, cut, soldered, or placed in a mold to obtain its shape.