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History of Hopi Jewelry

 

The Hopi Indians started crafting Sterling Silver Jewelry in the 1890s. Hopi Native American jewelry has been adorned by artists and jewelry enthusiasts who admire its unique style. 

The distinguishing feature of Hopi jewelry is that there are two silver pieces fused one on top of the other, this is called an overlay. The end designs are characteristically bold, and yet they complement all types of different aesthetics, and that’s what makes Hopi jewelry so appealing! The pieces are easily wearable as everyday accessories, and they stand out for special occasions.

Bracelets

In the 1930s to 1940s, with the formation of The Hopi Silvercraft Guild on Second Mesa, the Sterling Silver Overlay technique was developed. Returning Veterans were taught this new technique which made Hopi Jewelry very unique in the Native American marketplace. The process involves using a top layer of Silver with hand-sawn designs. The under layer is textured and oxidized by hand. Turquoise stones are often used as accents to the overall design. Renowned Hopi artist Charles Loloma, from Hotevilla Village, at Hopi, set an example of “ New Hopi '' Jewelry using Turquoise from many American mines plus Red Coral, Lapis Lazuli, Mother of Pearl, petrified wood, ivory, gold, diamond, and other precious metals. His sophisticated designs and techniques in 1972 brought Hopi Jewelry to the forefront of Native American Jewelry. Today his work is highly collectible and brings very large prices on the open market and at auction. If you have any questions about our inventory, please reach out! We’re always happy to have a conversation and share our knowledge with both new and returning customers.

Hopi Rings 

Hopi rings will make a beautiful addition to your jewelry collection. Hopi rings designed by the Hopi people have distinctive turquoise and sterling silver designs, which are unique to their techniques and jewelry style. The stones in Hopi necklaces often fit together stone-to-stone or with silver channels between them. 

The Hopi people developed a sterling silver overlay technique where they create a model for the ring then fuse on the second layer of silver, which has the traditional designs from the Hopi people. Because of the two layers, and the oxidation technique they use, the jewelry has a unique depth and sheen. Various artists incorporate the Hopi symbols of Kokopelli, water, waves, and clouds. These unisex rings are perfect for everyday wear and are guaranteed to help you stand out in a crowd.

L. Bruce Hodgins Sterling Silver Repousse Ring

Hopi Necklaces

The Hopi tribe has resided in the Southwest for many centuries and has played a significant role in the world of Native American jewelry and art. As with many Southwestern tribes, ornamentation began with carvings and crafting with stones, wood, shells, and even bone. It was not until the 1890s that Sterling Silver was used. Before that, jewelry was made from a rough cut or natural pieces of Turquoise. The Turquoise was set on a rough mosaic design on cottonwood root.

The purpose of these earliest adornments was for spiritual functions. The jewelry and art featured symbols and pictures of spiritually-connected images and were used to connect the wearer to a spiritual path or belief.

The Hopi have stayed true to their roots of symbolism and carving adornments. Much of the Hopi jewelry is made of silver and features imagery that is central to their culture. The authenticity of the beautiful jewelry still holds many spiritual meanings and is often worn not just for its precise and stunning shape.

Today, the Hopi artisans continue to create gorgeous adornments that are unique to the tribe. Shop our Hopi jewelry and accessories to view a truly historical and cultural collection of Native American Jewelry.

Hopi Bracelets

Our genuine sterling silver bracelets feature beautiful Hopi designs and traditional symbols. These beautiful bracelets are ideal for daily use and their beautiful designs are perfect with any wardrobe.

Hopi bracelets are most often crafted from sterling silver and sometimes gold. As you browse Hopi bracelet collections online, you'll find many bracelet options to choose from - from vintage and traditional jewelry to contemporary styles. The bracelet will create a striking look on your loved one's wrist.

Some of the Hopi bracelet designs are quite simple if simplicity is your preferred taste. Other bracelets are much more bold and intricate, telling stories of life at Hopi. Thepe is called storytelling bracelets. They are very detailed and required a skilled Hopi silversmith with a steady hand.

Hopi Turquoise Jewelry

Since turquoise is highly valued in Native American culture, the Hopi tribe members use a variety of turquoise patterns that give each piece of jewelry its own distinct style. We have described just a few of the turquoise patterns shown in stones from many turquoise mines.

  • Birdseye Turquoise: This design consists of small turquoise pieces surrounded by a darker color that resembles a bird’s eye. 
  • Ribbon Turquoise: This pattern is when the veins of the main rock in which the turquoise lives, are cut through to add pieces of turquoise within the veins, appearing as an accent and ultimately highlighting the mother rock.
  • Spider Web Turquoise: The turquoise is cut into small pieces and cemented together within the mother rock, which has a darker blue design.
  • SeaFoam Turquoise: This pattern appears to have a foam-looking, rocky nugget shape that is usually polished. Unlike the other patterns, jewelry makers do not cut the stone unless it needs to be flattened so it can be set in jewelry. 
Ladies Turquoise Watch

The History Behind Hopi jewelry

The Hopi tribe used to call themselves, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, which means “The Peaceful Ones.” This concept of peacefulness and balance permeates Hopi life and culture. Finding peacefulness and reverence with all things is central to the Hopi way of life. 

Hopi jewelry often features animals, important to the Hopi as spirit guides. Other common themes include fertility, represented by crops and plants, and the spirit world.

Hopi’s are best known for their intricate overlay designs. Their overlay designs are cut out entirely free-hand from sterling silver. In a typical Hopi piece, the top layer is highly polished, and the bottom layer is textured and oxidized. It is a unique, striking look. The subject matter can range from simple symbols, such as rain clouds, to extremely intricate scenes depicting various cultural elements. Turquoise, coral, and others are used in modern pieces to enhance the silver design.

Hopi Symbol Meanings in jewelry

While the Hopi jewelry designs can vary, you generally won't find many pieces that include stones. This puts the focus on the different types of Hopi jewelry symbols instead. The various overlay jewelry designs can also include a lot of animal designs. Other common designs include weather-related symbols, which are hugely important and prominent in Hopi jewelry. You’ll also find the Hopi flute priest, also known as the Kokopelli, in plenty of pieces that tell about Hopi life.

These pieces tell many stories about the origin of Kokopelli. Some acknowledge him as the god or deity of agriculture and fertility. Others just relate to Kokopelli as a fun musician. As he dances, sings, and plays his flute, he’s bringing good luck to anyone who listens to his songs.

Some common Native American symbols used in jewelry and their meanings include:

  • Arrow: bow and arrow; protection and defense. A broken arrow represents peace between tribes.
  • Bear: a sacred sign of courage and physical power
  • Coyote: ancestors, craftiness, intelligence
  • Crow: intelligence, fearlessness, creation
  • Dragonfly: resurrection, encouragement
  • Feathers: trust, wisdom, strength, honor, freedom
  • Fire: renewal, cleansing, purification
  • Raven: healing, medicine, self-transformation. Messages from the Spirit world.
  • Wolf: communication, loyalty, fierceness, compassion

There are many spiritual meanings in the various Hopi jewelry symbols. People are drawn to different Hopi jewelry symbols for their own personal reasons. Whenever you browse through Hopi jewelry for sale, it’s easy to notice that the pieces can feel both modern and yet steeped in history and tradition. The initial appreciation for its uniqueness. Then you might begin to reflect on its meaning to you, personally.

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The History Behind Zuni Jewelry

Zuni jewelry celebrates the history, culture, and beauty of the Zuni people. When you look at a piece of Zuni jewelry, the stones, silver, and the technique the artist used reflect the history of the tribe. In the 1830's, the Zuni tribe started learning how to work with copper. Towards the end of the 1800s, Zuni artists also began incorporating silversmithing techniques into their jewelry craft from their neighbors, the Navajo. Around this time, jewelry designers from the Zuni tribe began creating jewelry with an emphasis on lapidary.

For over a century now, Zuni lapidarists have developed their skill of setting and inlaying stones into metal. Oftentimes, Navajo silversmiths and Zuni lapidarists would work together to design beautiful silver pieces garnished with turquoise and other types of stones.

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Navajo Jewelry

The Navajo Nation, also known as the Diné Nation, is the largest Native American tribe in the Southwest and is the creator of Navajo jewelry. They began as a semi-nomadic group of hunters and gatherers who traded with Pueblo tribes and Spanish explorers.

Various adornments, such as jewelry or beads, are a vital part of the cultural heritage of the Navajo people. Elaborate ornamentation is considered to be a sign of wealth for their culture: the bigger and more elaborate a piece of jewelry was, the more respect the wearer commanded.

Sterling silver, large stones, and organic shapes are all common among Navajo jewelry designs. Navajo jewelry focuses on the innate beauty of Southwest rocks and minerals. Typically, the stones are either rough, polished, or carved into geometric shapes. 

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Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)

Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)

The By-Laws of the Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)  state its purpose as:

To honestly represent American Indian arts and crafts as to nature and origin within the realm of my control and to offer return privileges for articles found by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association to have been misrepresented by me; To abide by all federal, state, local and tribal laws pertaining to Indian Arts and Crafts, artifacts and natural resources; To abide by ethical business conduct regarding advertising, appraising, pricing and guarantees offered by me; To respect and support ethical business activities of all Indian Arts and Crafts Association members; To encourage consumer confidence in the authenticity of all articles identified with the IACA seal; and, To cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and the IACA in the investigation of crimes involving Indian arts and crafts and to promote proper identification of Indian arts and crafts.

In 2018, after 44 years, the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, an organization devoted to the preservation, promotion, and protection of American Indian Art, has come to an end.

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Ask Zunis about "Dragonfly" and they will tell you that Dragonfly is the messenger who carries prayers to the Spirit World.  The double-winged form of Dragonfly is sometimes referred to as the "Pueblo Cross."

Dragonfly is recognized as a sign of water, which is where this remarkable creature lays its eggs.  Where there is Dragonfly, there is water; where there is water, there is life.

Dragonfly is a skilled aerial acrobat and, like the mind, can move quickly in any given direction to accomplish its goal.  Being mindful of Dragonfly can help guide us to our own positive and transcendent goals.  The lovely, often iridescent colors of the wings remind us that the mundane existence that we commonly accept as the only reality may be an illusion.

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Harvey House Style Jewelry

Harvey House Style Jewelry

There is a great story behind the Harvey House Style Jewelry.

As the railroads pushed west in the late 1800’s, there was a demand for more services for the comfort of passengers. Enter entrepreneur Fred Harvey. The Fred Harvey Company established a business relationship with the Santa Fe Railway as it built tracks from Kansas City to Dodge City to Santa Fe to Albuquerque and eventually The Grand Canyon and all the way to Los Angeles. Harvey opened his first depot restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in 1876. By the 1880’s he had contracts that enabled him to set up a series of restaurants known as Harvey Houses every 100 miles along the Santa Fe Railway’s transcontinental route. Some evolved into Hotels. These establishments enabled passengers to get off the train and eat quality food served with the high standards Fred Harvey required. Harvey Houses were a far cry from the stark and exhausting train ride endured by travelers in the beginning days of train travel west.

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History of Turquoise

History of Turquoise

History of Turquoise

The history of turquoise is rich among the Native American peoples of the Southwest. Historically, turquoise jewelry was meticulously crafted for both religious and ornamental purposes and both men and women wear it.

Turquoise History Among Southwest Tribes

Turquoise history goes back for many generations among Native American peoples. For the Navajo tribe, turquoise was once used as currency and to this day is frequently crafted into very distinct styles of Navajo jewelry, such as with squash blossom necklaces.

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Pueblo Tribes

Pueblo Tribes

The Pueblo tribes of Southwest America have a rich history, full of culture, religion, art, and customs. The spiritual roots that sustain the 19 distinct pueblos of New Mexico (including Kewa “Santo Domingo”, Zuni, Acoma, Sandia, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Taos and Isleta among others in Dragonfly’s collection) connect them to the earth and sky, to the wind and water, to the sun and moon and to their ancestors.

In this article, we'll talk a little bit about the history of the Pueblo tribes as well as their jewelry and artwork that is featured on this website.

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Jewelry Materials

Jewelry Materials

Although Turquoise is the predominant stone associated with Southwestern Native American Jewelry, there are a variety of other stones and shells that are incorporated into designs. Historically, the Ancestral Puebloans of Chaco Canyon traded with tribes from Mexico and even Central America. Shells and parrot feathers have been found in archeological sites across the Southwest. When the reservation system was put into place, Indian Traders began providing artists with materials they thought would enhance the jewelry being made. Today, Native American jewelers have access to an unlimited variety of materials from their local Trader, jewelry supply store and the internet.

Below is a list of the more commonly used stones (other than Turquoise) and shells and their sources:

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