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The Art of Making Native American Jewelry

The Art of Making Native American Jewelry

Native Americans are longstanding craftsmen. Inside their civilizations, we can come across some amazing artistic achievements. Even in ancient history, they had remarkable jewelry and architecture which just go to show the extent to which these tribes were developed at an early age.

Ancient Times

Jewelry as old as 12 000 years has been found near Fairbanks, Alaska, exemplifying how advanced skills of Native Americans actually were at the time. Other than that, they are also known for having developed jewelry even several thousands of years BC. These pieces were made out of colorful stones and shells, and were used to make beads and pendants.

Modern Day

All handcrafted, they would make pieces with a wide selection of materials. They used diverse metals as they do today. Whether it be copper, gold or silver their work was and still is show-stopping.


They are known for using material from animals to make jewelry. In ancient times they would use antlers or bone. In later centuries, they would use feathers and teeth, skin and claws. Some of the dominant materials they use are, of course, shells, pottery, and stone.

They are no strangers to using ground as a resource for their artistry, as well as coral or turquoise. Turquoise is actually one of the more dominant materials of the Ancient Pueblo tribes. These interesting materials all contribute to the diverse aesthetics of handmade Native American jewelry.

They use traditional materials such as wood, metal, plants and plant fiber. A few more materials used for jewelry as well as trade include oyster shells, mother of pearls, and abalone. They would incorporate any sorts of precious and semi-precious gemstones they were able to acquire and would also have a variety of beadwork and quillwork.


Defining Culture

Their culture has always had a developed branch of craftsmanship. Most tribes had metalsmiths, beaders, and carvers. These were the creators of their jewelry and artistic tradition.


They would make necklaces, bracelets, pendants, rings, head-pieces and often incorporate the pieces into clothing. They were used to reflect the legacy of the tribe, as well as mark the identity of the individual. A mirror to artistic ideas and an insight into their tradition – it remains a form of communicating their identity without actually saying a word. This conveys the concept of their culture and is a reflection of their way of life. Some of the tribes which produce such jewelry are the Navajo, The Hopi, and the Zuni.


Today they come in all shapes and sizes. Native American jewelry kept the tradition of varied materials and skillfully made unique pieces but kept up with the development of modern design. Their style remains of the most breath-taking beauties in the world of jewelry making. Their aesthetics are reflected in handmade pieces which carry tradition, history, and uniqueness with it. The tribes still maintain their jewelry business as one of their most developed ones. This just goes to show that they are unparalleled in this field since ancient times.