The Utahan’s Love For Jewels: Tracing Its Roots

Native jewelleryNative Americans brought the love for jewelry in Utah. During the late 1700s, the locals began making contact and trading with the Native American peoples.

Roots of Jewelry Making: Navajo Tribe

These people used such ornaments through the years both as adornment and as merchandise in trade. They created rings, necklaces, belt buckles, and bracelets out of semi-precious stones found in mineral deposits in the southwest of the United States and in South America. Due to the Spanish influence, the Navajo tribe mastered the craft in their more than 200-year existence.

In early 1860s, the Atsidi Sani began creating such jewels out of silver by melting down Mexican coins as a resource. By 1880s, the Navajo then started using turquoise, a precious stone for them, as raw material. Influenced by the Zuni tribe, they began to use copper, brass, and iron and learned to combine these materials with stone and silver.

Early Jewels & Ornaments

Some of the most popular American jewelry left by the glorious days of the Native American tribes were:

  • Cross or the crescent-shaped naja on a rawhide necklace
    The early Navajos wore this ornament as a sign of beauty and pride, not as a reflection of their appreciation for Christianity or for the Moorish influence on the Spanish.
  • Concha or Concho
    When the Navajos learned to be silversmiths, they began creating Concha belts, Native American rings, bracelets, pins, necklaces, and some hair ornaments.
  • Overlay style ornaments
    Introduced by the Hopi tribe, these ornaments were created by soldering two sheets of silver together to create a two- or three-dimensional pattern.
  • Squash blossom
    Known among the Europeans as a pomegranate flower, this ornament was originally from the Spanish influence. Zuni smiths were the first to apply turquoise to squash blossom necklaces and the Navajo just followed suit.

These classic pieces of jewels signify a rich history. Many people are often on the lookout for the original pieces, and says they seek jewelry appraisers to verify its authenticity.

As you can see, these types of jewelry have truly come a long way.

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