Native American Bracelets
Native American bracelets are a particularly popular type of Indian crafted jewelry. While some are made of leather, the most frequently sought Native American bracelets are crafted from sterling silver. There are several design styles that can be found with a variety of different stones used in the making and many represent some significant customs of the Native American culture.
One of the most frequently seen style of Native American bracelets are wide bands crafted of sterling silver and inlaid with turquoise. Some are often accompanied by coral or onyx and set in a mosaic pattern, particularly in Navajo style bracelets. Though turquoise has been around for centuries and can be dated back as a valuable gem to many cultures, the majority of Native American designs today are believed to be more modern and influenced partially by European style. Turquoise was a commodity that was frequently traded amongst the Native Americans and the European settlers.
Other minerals and gems frequently found used in the crafting of Native American bracelets and jewelry are opal, sugelite, lapis, and gold. Sugelite is a mineral similar to turquoise and frequently purple in color, but is not related to turquoise nor is it considered precious. However, it is desirable in modern day jewelry making though it wasn’t used before the 1970s. It wears well and is suitable for combining with precious and semi-precious minerals and gem stones. Many Native American bracelets and rings can be found containing sugelite.
In addition to the many gems that are used in crafting Native American bracelets, it is also common to find etchings on the tops of bracelets. The etchings are often symbolic designs that represent a spirit and may signify anything from prosperity to fertility. Some etchings represent a story and others are simply interesting patterns.
Though wide banded or bangle style bracelets are common, there are still other types of Native American bracelets. Leather straps, usually intertwined with beads in intricate patterns are common. Though less expensive than pieces crafted with minerals and gems, leather Native American bracelets are very popular. Less common, but just as attractive are woven bracelets that represent any one of a number of tribal patterns.
Certain precautions should be taken around turquoise jewelry to keep it well preserved. Turquoise is fragile and cosmetics, hairsprays, and lotions can cause it to deteriorate. Avoid wearing genuine turquoise when using or being in direct contact with cosmetics and chemicals and don’t use lotion on the hands or wrists when wearing it.
Whether you are interested in collecting Native American jewelry in general or are just looking for an interesting piece to wear, Native American bracelets make very unique statements and can be found to suit most tastes. Remember that a merchandiser is prohibited from claiming any jewelry as Native American unless it was truly fashioned by an eligible member of a Native American tribe. Do not pay for authenticity unless you are sure that’s what you are getting.
Joseph Paige © 2006