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Southwest Native American Jewelry: The Difference Between Navajo, Hopi, And Zuni Jewelry Traditions

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If you are interested in purchasing some jewelry made by Native Americans, such as some sterling silver feather earrings, it is helpful to understand the history behind the jewelry-making traditions of the different tribes. The three tribes located in the Southwest are the Navajo, the Hopi, and the Zuni. All three of these tribes are known for creating unique and stunning jewelry that comes from years of craftsmanship and tradition within their tribes. 

Hopi Jewelry

Hopi jewelry is characterized by intricate silver work. Hopi jewelry, going back decades, has utilized a technique where multiple layers of silver are laid on top of one another. The top silver usually includes a very detailed design and is then soldered onto a solid silver base. This technique is used to create intricate silver jewelry with really stunning designs. Many of the designs reference nature as well as more abstract cultural symbols.

Zuni Jewelry

Zuni jewelry embraces different styles than Hopi jewelry. Zuni jewelry is usually made from four different types of colors and stones. Jet, coral, turquoise, and mother-of-pearl are the four colors and stones that are used in Zuni jewelry; other stones are rarely used in Zuni jewelry.

When it comes to making jewelry from these stones, Zuni jewelry usually uses a couple of techniques. Inlays, where the stones are set by each other side by side, as well as channel inlays, where the stones are laid with silver in between each stone, are two popular jewelry techniques used by Zuni artists. Needlepoint style, where very thin layers of silver are used with stones, is another popular technique used by Zuni artists.

Navajo Jewelry

Navajo jewelry is often defined by silver. Navajo jewelry-makers can do beautiful things with decorative silver. They make abstract silver designs and incorporate silver in other things as well, such as belts and various decorations.

Navajo jewelry is often associated with turquoise. Turquoise is one of the most common materials used in Navajo jewelry. It is common to see silver combined with turquoise gemstones and used to create elaborate creations.

If you want to support Native American cultures and peoples, be sure to purchase authentic jewelry made by Native American tribes. The artwork style of the Southwest Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni, often incorporate silver, turquoise, and other gemstones into their unique creations. Check out things like Native American sterling turquoise feather earrings today.