Navajo Jewelry

In today’s society, jewelry is simply a display of wealth and beauty, and a way to accent an outfit that someone is wearing.  For most, it’s a nicely crafted article that was made by a machine somewhere in the world, and people are grateful mostly because it accents their clothing nicely.  For most jewelry, that holds true. 

Navajo jewelry on the other hand, holds an important tale of history behind every carefully crafted artifact.  Most jewelry that is made by machinery vary in colors but have the same basic design amongst comparable pieces, like rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  Navajo jewelry is opposite in the sense that the colors are typically some version of turquoise and sterling silver, though the designs vary so greatly that no two pieces of hand crafted jewelry look identical. 

Navajo jewelry takes a great deal of time and skill to create and craft, as each piece is handcrafted using as little machinery as possible.  Navajo jewelry and Native American Jewelry are somewhat similar in the sense that they both use a lot of silver and turquoise to make their pieces, but jewelry from the Navajo tribe focus almost completely on those two colors to create endless designs, while Native American Indians use beads and colorful threads for much of their work.  The difference causes Navajo jewelry to cost significantly more because of the pure contents of sterling silver and turquoise.  These components are used primarily because silver is plentiful in the Southwest regions where they reside, and precious gems are easy to find.  Another characteristic that separates their jewelry from others is the fact that the gems used are not treated and polished, instead they are left in their natural form, showing appreciation for nature and the way the gems were intended to be.

Navajo jewelry was historically and occasionally still used as a powerful trading tool for other goods and services like livestock, medical and spiritual services that the Indians could not provide for themselves.  It was also common to give jewelry as gifts, because it shows artistic ability and caring because of the amount of time and effort put into creating such artwork.  Due to the fact that the jewelry is made from fine silver and precious gems, prices tend to be on the higher side of normal.  This jewelry can be found in many places, though the best place to purchase it from is an Indian reserve or market, because many places sell replicas, but they do not hold the authenticity that many are looking for.

Joseph Paige 2006

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