Turquoise Jewelry

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The sacred stone
Turquoise is a sacred stone “that has been used for centuries to adorn ritual objects and is still considered a cherished possession by Native Americans and Mexican Indians,” says Carol Karasik, author of The Turquoise Trail. An anthropologist as well as a jeweler, Karasik has published several books on native art, crafts and culture.

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Turquoise jewelry
“Production of turquoise jewelry is a vibrant cottage industry in the Southwest,” she said, “where members of the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Pueblo and other nations…create [jewelry] which hark back to prehistoric myths and traditional clan symbols.”

For thousands of years, turquoise has been treasured both for its natural beauty as well as its presumed power to heal. Not only was turquoise used by North American Native Indians for jewelry and carvings, its history even dates back as early as to Ancient Egypt, as exquisite turquoise adornments have been uncovered in tombs.

The color of turquoise
The color of turquoise can span a pallet ranging from a greenish yellow to dramatic blue, and this semi-precious stone is mined across the globe. In addition to its attractive appearance and the relative ease with which it can be drilled for stringing on beads or be carved into the shapes of fetish animals, turquoise has a more mystic property.

Myths and legends
According to the myths and legends of several cultures, the stone is believed to have the power to heal. In addition, it is reputed to assist in creativity, aid in making speeches and reduce stress. Furthermore, turquoise is said to have the ability to detoxify the body, give its wearer a deeper sense of self-knowledge, strengthen relationships, enhance friendships, and increase honesty and wisdom.

Types of turquoise
Besides North America and Egypt, turquoise mines can be found in China, Iran and Turkey. The actual hue of the stone is determined by different minerals present in the surrounding earth. The presence of iron creates a more greenish turquoise, while copper in the area generates a stone that is more blue in appearance. If there is zinc in the adjacent soil, the gem will be greenish yellow. Finally, there is a rare variety found in an area of Nevada where no minerals are present that is known as White Buffalo turquoise.

Cleaning turquoise jewelry
Care should be taken by one who wishes to clean turquoise jewelry, especially if it is a valuable antique piece. Dousing stones in chemical solvents can cause serious damage to the porous structure.

These gemstones must never be cleaned using ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Instead, mix some warm water and soap, and use a cotton-tipped swab dipped in the solution to gently remove soil, after which the turquoise should be wiped with clear water to wash off any residual soap.

Whether it is an antique heirloom or a modern creation modeled on traditional styles, a piece of turquoise and silver jewelry, handmade by a Native American Indian craftsperson can be treasured both for its beauty as well as the ancient heritage it represents.

Native American Encyclopedia

Native American Jewelry

Native American Jewelry

turquoise-jewelry-tn1239Native American Indian Jewelry

Native American Indian Jewelry has been found in excavations of prehistoric ruins. Bead making is an ancient craft. Bead necklaces are often called heishe, from the Santo Domingo word for shell. Seashells are the most common material used for beads. Seashells used in Native American Jewelry are Spiny Oyster Shell, Mother of Pearl, Abalone, Conch and Clam. They have been important trade items in the Southwest for over 1,000 years.

Native American Jewelry using silver work is not an ancient art. It was learned from the Mexican Silversmiths in the 1850s. Mexican Silversmiths would trade their Silver Trinkets for cattle from the Navajo. This association would lead the Navajo Blacksmiths to learn the art of Silver making. Navajo sand casting is one of the oldest silver working techniques among the Navajo. The Navajo Indians traded their jewelry with Zuni Indians for livestock. One of the Navajo early silversmiths taught the Zuni the art of silversmithing around 1872. Later a Zuni silversmith taught the Hopi silversmithing around 1890. The Native American Artists never mined the silver used in making their jewelry.
Native American Jewelry