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Fancy Jewelry Article

All about jewelry and fancy jewelry

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The History of American Indian Jewelry

The History of American Indian Jewelry
An article by Lee Anderson

“Indian jewelry,” as we call it today, probably has origins that predate the advent of the persons we describe as American Indians or Native Americans. However, for the purpose of this paper, we will consider prehistoric man as prehistoric Indian. Archeological evidence shows us that stones (including turquoise), shells, and fetishes predate the Christian (epoch). Turquoise found in Hohokam excavations in southern Arizona dates back to 200 B.C. Likewise, turquoise from central Mexico dates back to about 600–700 B.C.; from South America, ca. 900 B.C. Other beads are even earlier. Since Indian jewelry and turquoise are so closely associated, this paper will discuss both.

Turquoise, as a mineral deposit, is isolated to a rather limited geographical area in the Southwestern U.S. Some — very little — is found in Mexico, and there are some deposits in western South America. We will concentrate on that found in the U.S.Prehistoric Indians mined turquoise and turned it into jewelry — primarily drilled beads and other hanging ornaments. However, archeological findings include appliqué on shell and other rock, which means that turquoise was probably used with wood for ear decoration as well (the wood would have deteriorated). Extensive evidence of prehistoric mining operations has been found in several areas: the Cerillos and Burro Mountain regions of New Mexico, the Kingman and Morenci regions of Arizona, and the Conejos area of Colorado. Turquoise jewelry found in southern Mexico and in excavated mounds east of the Mississippi has been identified as originating from New Mexico’s Cerillos mining area. This article focuses on Southwestern mining localities.

Turquoise has been dominant in jewelry finds; for example, several thousand pieces were found in Chaco Canyon. However, it is not the only important jewelry find. The spiny oyster shell Spondylus princeps originates in only one area of the Western Hemisphere — off the coast of Baja California. This shell has been found in abundance in archeological excavations of the Anasazi, Mogollon, and Hohokam of the desert Southwest. It has also been found in the same eastern mound excavations where turquoise was found. These finds not only prove early and prehistoric man’s interest in, and use of, jewelry, but it reveals important economic information. It shows the existence of trading in his lifestyle. It also provides a glimpse into probable status levels of these people.

One might argue that this historical context has little to do with the development of Indian jewelry as we know it. However, as some (the Hopi and Pueblo cultures of the Rio Grande) are indeed descendants of the Anasazi and, as many believe, from the Mogollon and Mimbres. So it seems to be a valid beginning of a historic tracing. The Navajo, on the other hand, entered the area fairly recently — some say as early as the 14th century; others, as late as the early 16th. The Navajo, whenever they arrived, were undoubtedly influenced by the existing Pueblo cultures and (later) the early Spanish. As we will see, the Navajo were instrumental in spreading this craft to other Southwest tribes.

The Navajo were nomadic within their Dinetah or homeland. They were farmers only to the extent of planting a crop, leaving it to the vagaries of the weather, and eventually returning to reap the harvest, if any. They and their Apache cousins could be likened to the early Mongols of the 12th and 13th centuries. They not only raided but also took, kept, and developed whatever suited them. Beaded necklaces (a symbol of prestige), decorated “ketoh” (bow guards), and concha/concho likely originated from their most frequent conquests, the Spanish and their Pueblo neighbors.

The Navajo were in constant contact — sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly — with the Spanish as they populated the Southwest from the late 16th century on. From these people, the Indians developed a great appreciation for personal adornment. Some of the early Spanish designs such as the Moorish inspired crescent and the pomegranate blossom became key to Navajo jewelry design. This is discussed later in the section on the origin of the Squash Blossom necklace.


In time, the Spanish became dominant in the area. Although raids continued into the 19th century, the period was better described as one of “suspicious-cautious coexistence.” It was a 200-plus-year period of close association and sharing of the best of several cultures. The Navajo wore ornaments they obtained from those they conquered and from their trading partners. These ornaments were made from German silver (a copper-nickel-zinc substance that was bright and wore well), copper, brass and to a much lesser extent, silver. They learned to appreciate and hold dear the symbols of their prowess or their wealth. The early Navajos’ wearing a cross or the crescent-shaped naja on a rawhide necklace was likely an ornament of beauty and pride, not a reflection of their appreciation for Christianity or for the Moorish influence on the Spanish. If one person had such an ornament, others wanted one —if possible, something even better. Thus the pendant cross evolved, as did the naja, into a multitude of variations and blends. The simple thong on which they were displayed gave way to stone, shell, silver, or other metal beads.

The studies vary regarding the actual date that the Navajo began making silver jewelry. The two best works are by John Adair; subsequent research and writings are by Carl Rosnek and Joseph Stacy (see suggested reading list). All seem to agree that Atsidi Sani (“Old Smith”) was the accepted first Navajo silversmith. He learned the blacksmith trade in the early 1850s and possibly even dabbled in silver in the early 1860s.

After much warfare, the Navajo were captured by the U.S. Cavalry and marched into captivity in 1864. Approximately 8000, including Atsidi Sani, were sent to Fort Sumner in eastern New Mexico, where they were weaned from a nomadic, warlike lifestyle and taught to be farmers. The experiment failed and in 1868 they were returned to the Four Corners area, the Dinetah. Although many accept 1868, including the great Navajo leader of the time, Chee Dodge, as the year Atsidi Sani learned silver making, some evidence suggests that this is not wholly correct. Major Henry Wallen, the Commandant of Fort Sumner in 1864, made the tantalizing comment, “Some of them are quite clever as silversmiths.” Of course he may have mistaken German silver for real silver. In any event, Atsidi Sani wears the mantle as the first Navajo silversmith.

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About the Gold and Silver Jewelry Quality Mark

by: gem-fashion

It may sound a bit of a surprise, but the jewelry is not made of pure noble metals as in their original state they don’t often have the necessary properties. For instance, gold is too soft to work with. To give them the necessary mechanical properties and a wishful color nonferrous metals are brought into. Thus, we get different alloys, for example, that of gold with silver and copper, sometimes with palladium, nickel, zinc and cadmium.It is the precious metal content that determines the mark of quality.

In the USA, Britain and Switzerland the carat system is used. According to the carat system the 1000th mark of quality of the precious metal corresponds to 24 conventional units. In most European countries the metric system of the mark defining is used. It means that it is defined by the number of parts of the precious metal in 1000 weight units of the alloy.

The quality mark of precious metals alloys is set legislatively and is guaranteed by the state. All the jewelry necessarily undergoes the assay control to ensure it. As a result the mark of assay is put. The mark is defined by its digits. It’s up to a country to choose the form and the pattern of the mark of assay.

Very widely used in jewelry are 18k gold alloys as their properties are most suitable to work with. They contain: silver - 7,0%- 15,0% , palladium - up to 14%, nickel - up to 4%, zinc up to 2,4%, nickel - 7,5% - 16,5%, zinc - 2,0% - 5,0%, copper - up to 15%.

Another popular alloy is 14k gold. The alloys of this standard can have different colors. The color is influenced by the qualitative ratio of the ferrous metals.For instance, if 14k gold alloy (58, 3% - gold) contains silver – 36% and copper 5, 7% the alloy gets a greenish color. With silver- 18,3% and copper -23,4% - the pink one. With silver 8,3% and copper 33,4% - a reddish color.

The so-called white gold is often used in the jewelry with diamonds. The 14k white gold alloy contains: silver - 23,7% - 28,7%, palladium - 13,0% - 18%, nickel - 17%, zinc - 8,7%, copper - 16%. The 18k white gold alloy contains: silver - 7,0% - 15,0% , palladium - up to 14%, nickel - up to 4%, zinc up to 2,4%, nickel - 7,5% - 16,5%, zinc - 2,0% - 5,0%, copper - up to 15%.

The gold alloy of the 958th standard (metric system) or 24k is not durable and that is why rarely used. The gold alloy of the 375th standard or 10k contains: gold - 37,5%, silver - 10,0%, copper - 48%, palladium - 3,8%. Jewelry containing less than 37.5% of gold is not considered gold jewelry.

The most widely used is the silver alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy. It is used for the jewelry and the cutlery. The silver and brass stuff is frequently covered with a thin layer of rhodium or silver of the 999th standard (silvering).

About the Author
Elena is Russian, 23 years old, fashion designer by education and writes because she loves to. In addition to writing about fashion, she is a jewelry maker. She is known for her colorful, funky and daring Mahjong tile stretch bracelets.

The Beauty of Amber Jewelry

by: wyspa

The simplest and at the same time most subjective evaluation of amber jewelry by a user of admirer is to say whether it is beautiful or not. Contemporary amber artifacts produced by artists initially tend to surprise us with their otherness, in the same manner as any other art does, for instance painting or sculpture, or jewelry ornamented with gemstones. But modernity means otherness.

The extremely exceptional so-called "amber in amber" may become dazzlingly beautiful in the hands of a skillful artist. To find or excavate amber with opalescent surfaces depends less on skills and more on luck. This, however, comes about very seldom.

Some people are interested only in amber as perfectly transparent as many other precious stones in which nothing is going on inside. In such a case a more opulent setting must compensate the lack of unique features.Raw amber for mass production started to be clarified and pressed as early as in the 19th century. Its color could be freely altered, often in order to make necklaces from beads in one shade of color and transparency.

The trend initiated at the end of the 1960s by the Fietkiewicz family in Gdynia was followed by other amber centers, resulting in a high standard of amber working in Poland today. The "gem of the north", the most splendid beauty of which is revealed by artist's mastery, is often left without any setting, like Neolithic and ancient artifacts. Some amber products, rich in amber shapes and varieties, like necklace beads, spherical or flat pendants, beads on leather strip or just hemp or cotton string, gain in additional value in this way. Nothing spoils the sheer beauty of amber; its mysterious interior is not rivaled by some alien even though most magnificent ornamentation of a setting.

One may never stop writing about amber and amber jewelry. The mineral's charm never fades away, owing to its beauty and to its history so remote and ancient and at the same time ever more close to us. Its legends and magic always feel our very own.

About the Author
Caroline Signature Gems

Reaching Success In Jewelry Making

by: Carolina

One day, you buy your first plier and some rolls of wire and make your first loop. Disastrous, of course. You add one bead and painstakingly get to add the hook and you feel like the Queen of Jewelry Land. You actually get it to make a pair. Double feeling of being the queen.

Years go by and you keep working. Adding the hooks does not take hours anymore, so you start adding little embellishments, maybe a spiral loop. During these years, you learn the hard way all the ways you can make mistakes in this business. A few times along the way you decide you won’t make it anymore and maybe ramble with other arts, but pliers and wire always call you back and you find yourself awake at 5 AM because you suddenly woke up with that necklace design in your head. But it’s not easy. It makes you mad to think “why others can?” while you can’t seem to make it. Your artist ego is frustrated. You are tired of going nowhere. Things like marketing, advertising and promoting sound like from another world. A scary world. You’re an artist, you’re not a salesperson. But maybe you can’t quit your day job because you wouldn’t bay your bills selling jewelry.

But then, one day, you start working patiently and silently. Do not argue anymore about your doomed fate and overcome yourself by working seriously, making a business plan that works and give good results soon. You find ways to promote yourself that are easy and enjoyable and learn the right way to work a business. A real one that grows and grows in many directions.

What happened to you?

Well, you just lost your ego. Your amazing power to make each of your dreams come true can now arise and materialize. Obviously you don’t need this article at all but if you feel still included in the second paragraph, maybe you should keep on reading this

7 Tips to Be a Better Jeweler:
The Ego IssueAccording to both Buddhism and Psychology, your ego is a small angry child that never grew up. Instead of thinking rationally, we humans tend to act forced by that little child that, of course, cannot manage with an adult’s issues and just cries and moans and get completely paralyzed in fear of the unknown. Surprising, ah? If you ask yourself too much things like “Why do I never have luck?” or “Why does this always happen to me?”, maybe you’re letting that little child control your life.

The key to personal (and world) happiness is putting that child to rest letting it flow through creative activities, love and self – acceptation, but making choices with a higher conscience. Good choices bring happiness to us and good energy to the Universe, that will flow back to us through opportunities helping us achieve our full potential. As artists, we are even more inclined than many other people to reach a higher state of consciousness, so it should be easier for us to understand this facts.

1: You can always make it better.
Ego says: “I’m very very good” but really, how good you are? This is a very competitive world and you must be objective about the quality of your work. How can your jewels be improved? Can they be safer? Have you double-checked everything before you package it? Are you selling something that may eventually break or fall off?Remember that the kind of customer that you will die for is one that looks for quality and durability. A very good question to ask yourself is “Would I pay that money for this jewel?”

2: You can always treat your customers better.
Ego says “Making that custom gift box is really hard work, and for free!” Please, be more respectful with your customers! Some of the money they pay for a (never forget that) completely unnnecessary item you sell is very hard-earned! From all the jewelers around they’ve chosen YOU! There is always time to add and extra gift for a good customer. As artisans we need customers that come back again and again, and that always think of you first when they need a special jewel for their social events or gifts. We need a customer that speaks wonderfully of our work and bring new customers with them so, what do people find when they meet you, whether if the meeting is at your studio or at your booth? Treat them all the same, whether if they make big of small buyings. Know them as much as you can and try to put all your best efforts to make them feel at home with you.

3. Work hard to find your own style.
Ego says “Oh, my style is truly unique!” but the truth is that there is almost no such thing in jewelry business, or in any art business. Finding your own way includes a LOT of constant learning and humility. Strive to make the jewel you really dream of and do not feel pressured by what you can sell or whom you can sell to. If your pieces breath uniqueness they will sell out.

4. Give and Teach as much as you take and learn from others.
Ego says “oh, if I share my techniques everyone will make copys of my work and sell more than me for sure” Really, have you heard how childish that sounds? Change your view about yourself and ask yourself if someone could envision you as a master in your particular style.Sharing your techniques, whether as downloadable files for small prices (tutorials are usually very cheap) or simply for free like I’m doing now, will not only improve your business karma wonderfully, but also will make you get a lot of respect from learners and professionals alike. Building a good reputation will mean a good percentage of your sales one day, but you have to start now.

5: Forget about inspiration
Ego says: “I’m an artist, I can’t work if I’m uninspired”…well, and Pablo Picasso said inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Who do you believe? I chose to believe Master Pablo, of course. Inspired or not, work everyday. I’m sure there are a lot of “office issues” like web updating, taking better pictures of your items, making tags or whatever that you have pending, as we all have, that you can make it on your uninspired time. My husband is an electrician company director and he goes to work everyday, whether if he’s inspired or not! Why should I have that privilege?

6. You can make your own ways to sell and promote your work
Ego says “I’m an artist, I can’t deal with sales and publicity. That’s not what an artist is supposed to be.” Something I really hear a lot. I truly believe that, as artists, we are even more able to sell ourselves than other professionals because creativity is the real key to publicity success. The true instinct to find beauty is inside every true artist. Though I think is essential to read a good quantity of marketing articles, we have an ability to create that is a natural advantage. Again, change your point of view about yourself and create new ways to promote your work.

7. Don’t take critiques personally
Ego says “Oh, that person I don’t know at all thinks my jewelry is awful…I am a complete failure!” Well, you don’t like everything, so don’t expect your jewelry to be loved by everyone. What a person says about your work may be influenced by many things that do not have to do with your work at all. Be always ready to follow positive advice inmediatly, but don’t let other people’s feelings reflect on you self image. Remember, maybe that person is also talking through her/his little angry child!

Learning the business takes time and effort. There is no instant success and if there is, it will pass soon leaving you wondering what you did wrong… and making you learn another good lesson – which should always be seen as a valuable thing. I am personally guilty and all crimes said above and in many, many more that have turned into a deeper knowledge of myself, my work as an artist and the world around me. I am very proud of all my mistakes, in fact!We all are on an endless road of personal growing, with no finish line. There is always someone wiser than us and someone that may need our advice as well. I really hope this article helps you in your way to reach complete success; knowing that you’ve found your way is one of the highest feelings a person can have… and you deserve to have it too.

About the Author
Born and living in Tenerife (Canary Islands) Full-time jewelry artist and owner and designer of NeoVamp Jewelry, a OOAK fine bijouterie business. Expert in wire-wrapping and former illustrator and tattoo artist. I have also extensive knowledge in symbolism and healing properties of stones and colours. Every piece I make is completely handcrafted and unique, often recycling vintage jewelry. I work at my studio at home and personally keep my NeoVamp Blog. I decided to write articles as some answers to beginner's questions were too important or useful to keep them for one person only. Reusing beads and metal findings is essential to my work. Most of my pieces include vintage beads taken from unused or old-fashioned jewelry, from my own customers often. I am very aware of the need to be environmentally responsible and recycling is one of my constant goals. I've published a free course about Doll Customizing, a personal passion, and was interviewed by Rena KLingenberg in January for the Success Stories section of her site. In November last year I was interviewed by the Canary Islands TV Channel on the live show Canarias Directo. My future plans include writing more articles and downloadable tutorials, as I'm being asked constantly about my wiring techniques. Visit my jewelry blog:
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