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Mesa Verde Musings

Native American Jewelry, The Reason For The Draw

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Many people are now aware that Native American Jewelry is a welcome option to mass produced designer brands. It’s an affordable, wearable form of artwork not found at Tiffany’s or Zales for example.

Currently, in general, Native American jewelry consists of stone work using sterling silver as a medium. Before America was colonized, Native Americans used to make fairly simple jewelry which included pendants, earrings and beads. As technology has advanced, the art of metal jewelry blossomed. By the time the colonials arrived, the Natives were making intricate pieces of jewelry and using a variety of stones to beautify their jewelry work. Soon the Spaniards taught the Native Americans the art of silversmithing and all over the Southwest, the Natives were making intricate necklaces, bracelets and turquoise inlay rings made from a fusion of hybrid techniques. With improved tools introduced by the colonials, the Natives started making carvings from bone, shells and wood and stitched them together to make complex necklaces with different gems, gold, silver, glass and precious stones. However, now it should be noted that most modern artists no longer use fossilized bone, bear claws or any animal by-products to make jewelry.

The tribes most responsible for developing Native American jewelry are the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni pueblo artisans. Over the centuries, they have created traditional stone work, distinctive inlay and overlay designs using various semi-precious stones. Native American Jewelry has been around for at least 100 years. Since its introduction in America, an evolution of talent and technology has resulted into such a specialized art-form that, despite China’s best efforts, it cannot be duplicated. Native American silversmiths are considered to be among the finest in the world. In the Southwestern United States, Native American Jewelry has survived the test of time and is even more vibrant than it was over a century ago.

Today, you will find many celebs including Johnny Depp, Jessica Simpson, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and many others regularly wear Native American jewelry. Brands such as Dior and especially Ralph Lauren regularly use Navajo jewelry in their ads. I presume because of the subtlety and uniqueness of the styles. The popularity of Native American jewelry is chiefly due to the casual designs; not overly ornate or bling-y. The jewelry attracts those who seek signature styles. Prices are extremely affordable considering the artistry involved in creating each piece.

You will find that the majority of our jewelry is Native American but we also carry jewelry from other sources. We carry a wide variety of Navajo jewelry as it is the most versatile and diverse in style. However, we also carry jewelry made by Zunis, and Hopis.

The main draw for most customers is Turquoise, which come from different mines and crafted by many different artists from the Southwest. Dry Creek Turquoise is most notable; very rare and extremely popular due to the pale tones and earthy appearance. Each piece is carefully handmade, affectionately crafted and embellished with symbolic detail -- or not. If you are looking for an exotic piece of jewelry that is both unique and beautiful, check out our online store www.mesaverdesouthwest.com.   

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