Native American jewelry history is huge with the materials used and techniques applied changing with the changing technology. Turquoise was mined in the Southwest and dates back from 200 B.C. and was the most commonly used stone in making Native American jewelry. During the late 1800s, silver was introduced to North America by the Spanish who even took it as their responsibility to teach Native Americans the silversmith trade.
With time, their skills advanced and in order to meet the need for the modern global market, new stones were added to the silver jewelry for a fine and added a touch of style, and here are the most common stones that were commonly used.
Turquoise has been mined in the Southeast U.S for many years and still remains the favorite in Native American jewelry. This beautiful sky blue, light and dark Turquoise varies by region and contains specks of brown, green, black, or gold matrix that present the true definition of native american inspired jewelry.
Natural Turquoise could be solid in color or in a combination of gold, brown, white or other colored minerals. The greener shades of turquoise come from association with iron and the blue color from copper. Turquoise is regarded as a token of good fortune and its oldest mines are located in New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.
Coral is also famously known as Red Branch Coral or Red Coral. It is made from a collection of many tiny animals growing on the bottom of the sea and was originally found in the Mediterranean Sea before arriving in North America with the Europeans.
It was used to make beads for necklaces and to make it even more appealing it’s paired with turquoise for more beautiful and bright designs. Today, coral has become so hard to find that people are using branch coral or dyed bamboo in jewelry.
3. Lapis Lazuli
Have you ever heard of lapis lazuli? Well, lapis lazuli is a deep blue rock with gold flecks used as a gem for jewelry. According to ancient cultures, lapis lazuli is believed to possess magical powers and when used in jewelry, it’s easier to notice its brilliant blue lapis especially with Sterling Silver. It’s worth keeping in mind that lapis is scratched easily and therefore, clean it with a soft dry cloth.
Onyx stone is black and can be polished easily to a high shine. Upon mining, Onyx may have bands of brown, black, white, or red but will have a uniform black color when treated with sugar/acid, and heat. In most cases, onyx is used in settings because it may scratch easily.
5. Spiny Oyster
In trade and jewelry making, spiny oyster shells are very common as they are used in making beads and stones that usually pair with turquoise.
Interestingly, these shells come in various colors such as purple, red, white and orange and are most commonly harvested off the coasts of Baja in California.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the elegance of beauty and design of the stones in Native American jewelry is not fading anytime soon and will remain an object of admiration among many people. There are many stones used in Native American jewelry and regardless of your preferences, there are stones that will suit you.