The history of Native American jewelry is vast, with the techniques and materials used changing as technologies advanced. According to archaeologists, the first turquoise jewelry made by Native Americans dates from 200 B.C., but it wasn’t until the mid-to-late-1800s that silver was used in the craft.
The Spanish brought silver to North America and taught Native Americans the silversmith trade. As their skills advanced, stones were added to the silver jewelry for an added touch of style, with the following stones being some of the most commonly used.
The stone most featured in Native American jewelry, turquoise has been mined in the Southwest United States for hundreds of years. Typically blue in color, this beautiful stone varies by region and often has specks of green, brown, gold or black matrix.
Each Native American tribe has its own origin story for turquoise stone; many consider it a token of good fortune. According to the Zuni people, blue turquoise is representative of the sky while green turquoise represents the earth.
The oldest turquoise mines in the United States are believed to be located in New Mexico. Other popular U. S. mining locations include Arizona and Nevada.
Deep orange or red in color, coral has been used in Native American jewelry since it arrived in North America with the Europeans. First used to make trade beads and beads for necklaces, this stone is often paired with turquoise to create beautiful and bright designs.
Originally mined in the Mediterranean, red coral (also called blood or apple coral) has become quite rare, leading to the use of dyed bamboo or branch coral in jewelry today.
Used in both trade and jewelry making, spiny oyster shells are used to make beads and stones to pair with turquoise. These shells are found in a vast array of colors including red, purple, orange and white. Most often harvested off the coast of Baja, California, archaeologists have found a plentiful amount of shells on digs across the Southwest.
If you are looking for a beautiful piece of handmade Native American jewelry, Kachina House has a wide variety of styles and stones for you to choose from. With old and new pieces available, you are sure to find something you absolutely love.