One of the most distinctive forms of Native American art is jewelry-making. For centuries American Indians have been creating gorgeous pieces fashioned with beautiful, hand-crafted beads and centerpieces of many different natural materials and stones.
Each necklace, bracelet, ring, etc. is a unique work carefully designed and constructed with the utmost care and dedication. The field of Native American jewelry making is so diverse and complex, you’ll have a hard time finding a genuine replica of any piece! However, there are some common elements shared by different types of jewelry that have become staples of the culture.
Read on to learn about three of the most beautiful, widely used stones in American Indian jewelry making!
This beautiful stone is probably the one most associated with Native American-made jewelry. It’s one of the most traditional gems in the culture, having been mined and used by indigenous peoples for centuries. The turquoise stone occurs naturally in a range of different shades of blue, blue-green, and brownish-green.
Turquoise is believed to be the most powerful source of good fortune when it comes to Native American jewelry. It brings a great amount of health, luck, and positivity to those who wear it.
After turquoise, coral is one of the most ubiquitous stones in American Indian jewelry making. It’s found in the waters of the Mediterranean and made its way over to North America with the Europeans. Native Americans began incorporating it into their designs when colonists started using coral beads for trade.
The vibrant shades of coral range from blood red to orange, pink, and sometimes even white. This stone is often paired with turquoise to create the most bright and vivid pieces. American Indians attribute soothing qualities to coral, maintaining that it garners power in its rise from the sea. Coral aids the wearer in travel, health, and protection.
While jet may not be as widely used as turquoise or coral in Native American jewelry, it does hold an important place in contemporary designs and is used in many one-of-a-kind pieces. Jet stone is a type of coal that comes from decaying wood being put under pressure—sometimes called “lignite.” It forms organically underwater.
Jet is mostly used in contemporary Native American jewelry-making as an aesthetic accent, bringing drama and flare to any piece. It is also considered to be another stone with soothing properties, drawing out negative energy and helping the wearer achieve spiritual harmony.
Each stone used in Native American jewelry is valuable and meaningful, often defining the entire style of a piece. Authentic American Indian jewelry is an incredible addition to any collection! Find the perfect piece for your style in the prestigious collection of Native American jewelry we proudly house at the Faust Gallery. Check out our amazing, original selection online—or pop in for a visit and be wowed by our exhibits in person!