Beginners Guide to Native American Jewelry

Native American jewelry has a unique style and cannot be copied or replaced. It exudes the original aesthetic of native tribes and contributes to the beauty of jewelry worldwide. If you are not informed about it read our text and find out some new and interesting facts.


The pioneers in jewelry making started their craftsmanship almost 9000 years BC. At first, it was a simple design which included colored stones, shells, and even animal parts. The Native American jewelry we know and love today is reminiscent of the earlier design.

The Process

Making jewelry has always been detailed work. In order to achieve their goal, older tribes resorted to meticulous carving, beading, weaving, and other techniques. Pioneering silver-smiths were determined to use the materials available in creating some amazing artwork. They use gemstones in combination with sterling silver and this tradition remains even today. The seemingly simple combination of metal and gems offers a free expression of various individual styles.


Their jewelry was used as various symbols. Every gemstone has a particular meaning and tells a story. Different tribes used different symbolism to express their experience of life and nature. The Hopi tribe would, for example, make Native American bracelets from silver. They would have elaborate carvings done in the silver because that was their trademark. The Navajo would mostly incorporate natural elements such as shells, minerals, and stones. They would shape these elements as to make a distinction from other tribal jewelry. The Zuni tribe used symbols and animals to embellish their jewelry and set their aesthetic apart from other Native Americans.



The jewelry was used to express individual identity. By adorning themselves Native Americans expressed which tribe they belong to and what class they are a part of. It was a way to express a spirit of unity with their native tribe as well as their personal style. Each tribe had distinct markings and their craftsmanship was easy to discern.

Types of Jewelry

Native Americans use this metal for making necklaces, rings, bracelets, and pendants. Some of their most appreciated works of art are their sterling silver animal pendants. The pieces are elaborate and full of symbolism. They used animals in their immediate surroundings and portrayed them through powerful imagery. Their pendants typically capture the beauty of the animals while they are in motion. Some of the animals they use would be domestic ones such as horses. Other would be wild animals which cannot be tamed as bears. And in a lot of cases, they would use different types of birds.

Sterling Silver

This material is vastly appreciated in Native American craftsmanship. It is widely used in jewelry making and other crafts. The term is usually synonymous with its marking 925 which alludes to the amount of silver in the amalgamation. Sterling silver contains 92.5 percent of silver making it a high-quality precious metal. It has amazing coloring and resists oxidation. It is widely used in the world for jewelry, ornaments, coins, silverware, and other uses.