Although Navajo Silversmithing had been practiced only by men, Navajo women had begun working the metal by 1918 and began to make beautiful Native American Turquoise Jewelry as well. American coins were the primary source of Silver for Jewelry until 1890, after which defacing a U.S. coin was outlawed.
The earliest works were concho belts, bracelets, and necklaces, but eventually expanded to a full range of jewelry. Today, some of the most popular features of Navajo Indian jewelry include silver, naja pendants, squash blossom necklaces, and concho belts.
The Navajo believe that a piece of turquoise is actually a piece of the sky, fallen to earth. Native American nations, including the Navajo, Acoma Pueblo, and traditionally the Maya and the Aztecs, associated turquoise with spirit communication, healing, and good fortune.
For many tribal peoples, including the Navajo, jewelry’s meaning can be spiritual, monetary, or aesthetic, or a combination of the three. It traditionally represented its wearer’s status. … Some common Native American symbols used in jewelry and their meanings include: Arrow: bow and arrow; protection and defense.
In short, wearing Native patterns or jewelry is fine as long as you bought them from an actual Native designer. And if there’s something that you really shouldn’t be wearing — i.e. a headdress with special religious or tribal significance — the artist you’re buying from will likely let you know.
The commonly design jewelry around a stone’s natural shape. When Navajo do inlay, it is bolder than Zuni inlay and usually has silver between the inlaid pieces (called “channel inlay”). Their inlay tends to be more complex than Navajo, with more cuts and patterns. … Most snake designs are done by the Zuni.