The History and Beauty of Zuni Indian Jewelry
The Zuni Indian tribe of western New Mexico has long been creating Zuni Indian jewelry that has been prized and coveted by by members of its own tribe, other tribes, the general public and collectors. Zuni Indian jewelry is unique because of the way the Zuni apply their stonework and inlay. Zuni Indian jewelry features intricate stone channeling that is based on centuries old basket weaving and pottery designs.
With so many different and distinct styles of Zuni Indian jewelry being learned and passed down since 1870, the history of the Zuni Indian jewelry is just as rich as they are beautiful. Every Zuni Indian jewelry piece and design is created with dedication and the craftsmanship learned over a lifetime.
The Start of Zuni Indian Jewelry
The Zuni people were extremely skilled pottery makers and basket weavers, passing down some of the more intricate designs seen from generation to generation. Around 1870, members of the Zuni tribe learned the skill of inlaying stones from the nearby Navajo tribes, who they traded with regularly, and Zuni Indian jewelry was created. The Navajo were extremely skilled silversmiths, and still create most of the metalwork that the Zuni use to create their beautiful Zuni Indian jewelry. The one main mark of distinction that has set the Zuni Indian jewelry out from other Native American jewelry makers was their addition of turquoise, which is found in the southwest, to their pieces. Before the Zuni used it, turquoise was not used in stonework.
Different Types of Zuni Indian Jewelry Techniques
Over the years the Zuni have created several different methods of laying their stonework to create the designs and impressions that they are known for. The most popular Zuni Indian jewelry technique is known as cluster work and involves clustering several stones of a similar color together into intricate patterns. Another popular Zuni Indian jewelry technique in Zuni Indian jewelry is known as needlepoint or petit point. The stones are either rounded or pointed to make it appear as if the stone is disappearing into the metal piece. Finally there is mosaic overlay Zuni Indian jewelry, which is the preferred type and has the most demand on the market.
Zuni Indian Jewelry Now
Like every other type of jewelry, the changes seen have led to a preferred style of jewelry– mosaic overlay Zuni Indian jewelry. Because this technique can be used on bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings of any size it is easier for artisans to craft designs they prefer.