November 17, 2017

Exploring Native Jewelry

By LaRita Chapman

In a changing world where we can more quickly access and acquire nearly any object that our heart desires, shouldn’t we more carefully consider where that object originates and individuals behind it? Yet, more and more, this becomes a mystery--can I trust that the item was made with integrity? How much of the creation was automated? Where did the materials come from? How long and far did my item travel, and at what cost?

For me, as a gallery curator of Native North American indigenous art and jewelry, an integral and critical component is that I do know from whom our collections come before offering them in our gallery. The finest American Indian jewelry resonates with an authenticity and esteemed pedigree that enhances its value. Aficionados of Native jewelry know their turquoise, coral and silver; they often have and care take exceptional or classic examples of this wearable art. Many a collector buys from jewelers, frequents the markets, seeks out old pawn traders all the while looking forward to acquiring the next special piece. Provenance includes the deep and rich history of the remarkable past and present artisans of American Indian jewelry and savvy collectors have known this decades.  

Be it a contemporary example of Navajo silver and gold work reflecting ancestral beliefs within modern designs, a Zuni artist's exquisitely detailed lapidary skills, or intricate Puebloan mosaic inlays, fine examples Southwestern Native American jewelry are heirlooms in the making. We are honored to offer a sample of this ongoing tradition of handmade beauty in Native American Jewelry. Be sure to check out the Dec/Jan Jewelry Issue of Native American Art Magazine, devoted to the stories behind these beautiful works.