Native American Turquoise Jewelry

Many people across the country love Native American Indian jewelry for its rich history, unique appearance, and generally affordable price. In addition to the creation of quilts, wood carvings, pottery, and various other handmade pieces of art, this wonderful culture of people has also been preserved through the creation of bracelets, rings, necklaces, and earrings. Antique pieces could include wood, porcupine quills, or even coral. With such a large number of tribes across the country, styles can vary greatly. Yet, one can always find examples of many types in places from local malls to cultural history museums. With unique styles and various gemstones to choose from, just about anyone can appreciate this delicate art form.

Among the different types of Native American Indian jewelry from different regions and tribes, there are a number of gemstones that Native Americans use in particular because they are found in regions that they once inhabited or currently reside in. Whether looking at antique pieces or modern pieces, agate, amber, beryl, coral, garnet, jade, jasper, opal, pearls, peridot, quartz, sapphire, shell, topaz, tourmaline, and turquoise can be used. Shell and turquoise stand out as a couple of the most popular materials used in this art. Beadmaking was a prominent art in tribes of the past. Some tribes would also use copper for setting stones. Today silver, gold, and even wire are used for settings to match more modern styles.

People often think of Native American turquoise jewelry when they first think of this craft. Turquoise was readily available to many Native American groups when they prospered on this land. The beautiful shades of green and blue with dashes of white or black make this the perfect gemstone for adorning. When unpolished, it has a waxy appearance, but once polished and shaped, it takes on a life of its own. This type of stone continues to be particularly good for bead making as well. Bracelet and necklace lovers alike can find a bountiful selection of bead pieces just about anywhere where Native American turquoise jewelry is sold.

Anyone with a strong love for turquoise should consider herself lucky. Turquoise, especially paired with silver, is very affordable here in the United States. There are more rare forms of turquoise that are higher priced. Because common types are more available than some other gemstones, turquoise is reasonably priced, even when set in gold or platinum. Most of the cost is associated with the setting rather than the gemstone itself. Other gemstones can vary in cost. The translucent stones, such as garnet, topaz, and sapphire, tend to be more popular and therefore, more expensive. If a piece of Native American Indian jewelry seems too inexpensive, make sure that it isn't synthetic. This means that it is man-made rather than made through natural processes and then mined.

As with purchasing any type of jewelry, it's important to be a smart shopper when on the prowl for a fine piece of Native American turquoise jewelry. Be sure that the seller is reputable. Genuine pieces and reputable sellers are often found at Native American festivals, museum gift shops, jewelry expos, well-known jewelers, and even through some online retailers. With online jewelers, always be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against them. Look at online reviews for the store as well. Even though each piece is unique, try to compare prices at various stores, both locally and online. A little research before hand could save a lot of money and even a little frustration. The Bible says, "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it" (Proverbs 8:11). In the process of making a purchase, don't forget to use common sense.

Making Native American turquoise jewelry can be a creative and fun alternative to buying already made jewelry. It even offers the opportunity to obtain the exact look that one desires. There are many step-by-step guides and books available. Jewelry-making groups meet both locally and nationally to provide support for those who are interested in taking up this art as a hobby or career. There are a wide variety of wholesalers who sell all of the materials, including silver, gold, and gemstones. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings can all be purchased pre-made in silver or gold. Gemstones can be bought precut to fit the jewelry. It's only a matter of setting the stones to make the perfect piece of Native American Indian jewelry. Just about anyone can learn how to set a gemstone with only a little practice and few helpful instruments.

Not only does this art form produce unique adornments, meanings behind each piece reveal a rich history. Many tribes used necklaces and other pieces to symbolize status within a tribe or to even show that a woman was available for courtship. There are many museums across the United States that display priceless examples of this amazing craft. One needs only to stop in any state history museum to find an exhibit on Native Americans with a display of their art forms, clothing, and tools. From Alaska to North Carolina, few states have been untouched by these fascinating groups of people. Both they and even non-Native Americans continue to preserve the history through this craft. It's important that people support their efforts, especially those of independent Native American jewelry artists. They may cost a little more to purchase, but these pieces of Native American Indian jewelry are more unique and are usually considered finer pieces. Regardless of who a piece is purchased from, each one is a treasure to be treated with care.

American Indian Jewelry

The purchase of American Indian jewelry is a worthwhile investment in so many different ways, both for one's style and one's sense of culture. It is artistically beautiful, is usually hand-made and unique, and often benefits Native Americans who live on reservations and endeavor to sustain their ancestral way of life. Buyers searching for this kind of product will find a variety of options to spruce up their wardrobes, from turquoise rings to topaz bracelets to bolo ties. Available jewelry may be antique or contemporary, composed primarily or metalwork or beads, and come from a variety of tribes, including the Cherokee, Apache, and southwestern tribes.

Southwest Indian jewelry originates primarily from the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo peoples; the jewelry from different tribes is very similar because the tribes use most of the same materials. Popular materials include sterling silver, copper, turquoise, coral, beads, shells, ivory, and amber, all of which create beautiful, artistic representations of the natural world and exemplify Native American craftsmanship. In an American Indian jewelry store you might find a Navajo bear claw pendant or a bolo tie with a cow skull or a sterling silver bracelet with exquisite turquoise snakes circling the band. Other popular features are eagles, wolves, and horses, as well as flowers, trees, and water. Many of these animals and natural features hold great cultural and spiritual significance for the artists who include them in their ornaments.

Buying Native American jewelry can give the buyer a glimpse into a unique and interesting culture with a significant, meaningful history. Each tribe puts its dearest values and most deeply held beliefs into its artwork, creating pieces that show a love of the natural world, a desire for harmony with the earth, and a special appreciation for beauty. Many of the patterns and images they use are highly symbolical, such as feathers showing honor, the owl representing wisdom, or the turtle meaning long life. This is similar to the way the Biblical writers often recognized natural features in the world as metaphors for the spiritual life, for example: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon" (Psalm 92:12). Southwest Indian jewelry makers use a vast array of natural symbols to create pieces with meanings that go far beyond silver and topaz.

Southwest Indian jewelry tends to be very colorful and to use many gemstones. A popular example is the squash blossom necklace, which always features a hanging crescent and can be found in a wide range of colors, stones, and styles. Another popular item is the concho belt or belt buckle, usually consisting of stones set in silver. Other standard items include bone chokers, amber pendants, and sterling silver hair clips. These ornaments make lovely gifts for family members and friends, with options for men and women of almost any taste and personality.

If the shopper wants only authentic American Indian jewelry she needs to be careful where she buys, as there are many manufactured products that are not created by Native Americans and are definitely not hand made. To guarantee that a product is genuine, shoppers should determine whether the seller is a member of an Indian arts & crafts society, a certification which ensures fair dealing. The good news is that many American Indian products are now available online, with endless selections and often free shipping. Authentic hand made jewelry tends to be very expensive, but with a little searching a shopper can find high-quality items for reasonable prices and will be satisfied to know that her new accessories are not only fashionable but also meaningful works of art. Furthermore, she will have the opportunity to support artisans, enabling them to continue tribal crafts and honor their heritage.

The Native American arts have been threatened by colonization, assimilation, and oppression, but are still going strong in many parts of the United States and seek to share Indian art with other American cultures. Buyers wishing to honor such artisans should consider purchasing products from sellers who support reservation projects such as those which encourage Native American children to further their educations, provide mentorship programs, and seek to better educational opportunities for children who live on reservations. Some American Indian jewelry stores exist with similar missions in mind, and can be found with a little online research. Also, buyers who are interested in antique or "old pawn" jewelry should consider giving more support to contemporary artisans, as antique items were often obtained in ways unfriendly to various tribal members. Antique items were frequently stolen or simply sold by Native Americans in financial difficulty, who sacrificed valuable cultural artifacts in order to survive; these items might not rest easily in the possession of shoppers concerned with ethnic injustice issues.

Wherever shoppers decide to make purchases, there is an abundance of Southwest Indian jewelry to give a bit of extra style and color to any wardrobe. A turquoise bolo tie can add some flair to a suit; an opal concho belt can accent a casual outfit; sterling silver hair clips can dress up a woman's every-day hair-do. Even children would find joy in Native American ornaments, loving a beaded bracelet or a necklace with a bear claw. Because they are hand-made, no two items are the same, and buyers have the privilege of wearing jewelry crafted with loving attention and a long history of cultural significance. Perhaps this is one more way for various American cultures to learn to respect and honor one another's traditions, values, and special contributions to society.

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