Southwest Indian Jewelry


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Southwestern Indians have been using shells and stones to make jewelry since prehistoric times. After the arrival of the Spanish, they added silver to the materials they used. Turquoise, one of the world’s most unique gems, is used frequently in Native jewelry as well. 

Turquoise is an ancient gemstone, formed around 30 millions years ago as water moved through rock, leaving behind deposits of aluminum, copper, and zinc.  Turquoise gets its color directly from the ground where it forms, depending on the metal content present.  In North America, the earliest evidence of turquoise mining and use is credited to the Anasazi and Hohokam peoples. These ancestors of the Pueblo nations mined the famous Burro and Cerrillos Mountains of modern-day New Mexico and the Kingman and Morenci mines of Arizona.  Archeological sites reveal turquoise necklaces and other jewelry in the American Southwest and point to the history of relevance with its Native Peoples.  For all of recorded history in the Southwest, turquoise has been considered sacred, being used in ceremony and worn to stand out as Native when among other peoples.

Fine examples of older, vintage jewelry are available at Adobe Gallery, including silver and turquoise work from the Navajo Nation, necklaces made of shell and stone from Kewa Pueblo, and turquoise cluster work from Zuni Pueblo.  Much of the jewelry dates to around the mid-twentieth century, but we are pleased to offer select contemporary works as well.

A Brief History of Navajo & Pueblo Jewelry from ATADA.org on Vimeo.