Native American jewelry dates back millennia and they are some of the most beautiful pieces in the world. It is estimated that Native Americans all across the country were making jewelry pieces as far back as 9,000 BC. This makes their jewelry among the oldest in the world. There are many different types of antique native American jewelry and in this article, we are going to take you through some terms that you should know.
Squash Blossom Necklace
When it comes to the squash blossom necklace, you get a necklace that is made using turquoise and silver. The pieces typically consist of a horseshoe-shaped end that is known as the Naja. The purpose of the Naja is personal protection as it was said to ward off evil spirits. With most native American tribes, the intricacies of the necklace were often a reflection of the social status of the wearer. With the coming of European settlers, some changes were observed in how these necklaces were made. For example, native American jewelry makers started to use American silver coins to extract the silver that they needed to make these necklaces.
Native American neck jewelry was not just confined to necklaces. Many tribes also crafted beautiful pendants as well as chokes from a variety of materials. For some, the use of natural organic materials such as bones and feathers was widespread. The organic materials would be augmented with sterling silver for added aesthetic appeal. For tribes that lived near water bodies, it was common to find all manner of shells incorporated into these pieces. The bird-form pendant from the Navajo is a great example of a pendant that incorporated silver, turquoise stones as well as feathers.
Arm jewelry was also quite popular among many native American tribes and they come in all shapes and sizes. Typically, bracelets and cuffs tend to be very ornately done as the broad surface of the jewelry gives enough space for such ornate decorations. Although this differed from tribe to tribe, arm jewelry was often made from silver and decorated with beads. In the southwest of the United States, Native Americans typically had leaf patterns among other designs.
However, native American craftsmen were capable of more sophisticated designs. For example, the Hopi were known to create overlay jewelry that featured two pieces of silver joined together. The top one would have intricate designs on it while the bottom layer would be oxidized.
One of the least known items when it comes to Native American jewelry is belts. Some of the most popular forms of belts made by native Americans are concho belts. They derive their name from the term concha which is a term that means seashells. Concho belts were popular across the various native American tribes but especially among the Navajo. In fact, the concho belt became standard attire for the Navajo by the 19th century.
As concho belts became more popular over the years, Navajo craftsmen got even more creative with their belts. Additional ornaments were used, such as silver coins. Other materials that came into use at the time also include copper, cording, and much more. The body of the belt was made using treated leather, with straps for tying them together. Some craftsmen also used copper rings to tie the belt together. If you have a piece of Native American jewelry and are not sure what it is worth, it is a great idea to contact expert appraisers who can help you determine the value of your antique piece.