One of the most distinctive forms of Native American art is jewelry-making. For centuries American Indians have been creating gorgeous pieces fashioned with beautiful, hand-crafted beads and centerpieces of many different natural materials and stones.
Each necklace, bracelet, ring, etc. is a unique work carefully designed and constructed with the utmost care and dedication. The field of Native American jewelry making is so diverse and complex, you’ll have a hard time finding a genuine replica of any piece! However, there are some common elements shared by different types of jewelry that have become staples of the culture.
This beautiful stone is probably the one most associated with Native American made jewelry. It’s one of the most traditional gems in the culture, having been mined and used by indigenous peoples for centuries. The turquoise stone occurs naturally in a range of different shades of blue, blue-green, and brownish-green.
Turquoise is believed to be the most powerful source of good fortune when it comes to Native American jewelry. It brings a great amount of health, luck, and positivity to those who wear it.
Turquoise Mines of the Southwest
Today Turquoise mines across the Southwest are nearly exhausted, bringing more value and meaning to the rarity of this non-renewable American resource.
Types of Turquoise
Number Eight Turquoise
The #8 turquoise mine is located in Eureka County, NV. Although the mine is considered depleted and has not produced for a number of year's, #8 is still fairly available through collections and other holdings. The color varies from light blue with golden to red, or dark brown matrix.
The Royston mine is located near Tonapah, Nevada. Royston turquoise is known for its beautiful colors ranging from deep green to rich light-blue, set off by a heavy brown or golden-brown matrix. It is also known for the rare blue to green fade that can be present in the same stone or cabochon.
The Kingman Turquoise mine is one of the oldest and highest producing mines in America. It is located in the Cerbat mountains 14 miles northwest of Kingman, AZ in the Mineral Park Mining District. It has been commercially mined since the late 1880's and produces various shades of both blue and blue green turquoise.
Discovered near Battle Mtn. NV, Dry Creek turquoise is a natural stone ranging in shades of very light blue to white. Dry Creek Turquoise forms when there are no other heavy metals present in the soil. To date, no other vein of this type of turquoise has been discovered anywhere else.
Royal Web/New Lander
The Royal Web mine is located in the hills outside of Crescent Valley, NV, and is one of the many mines located off of Indian Creek Road. Although sold early on as Royal Web, this turquoise is now know as New Lander due to its intense matrix and strong resemblance to the spider webbing of Lander Blue turquoise.
The Sleeping Beauty Turquoise mine is located in Globe, AZ. It derives its name from the Sleeping Beauty Mountain located near the mine and produces a uniform light to medium clear blue turquoise. The Sleeping Beauty mine was once one of the larger producers of turquoise in the country, but currently is no longer being mined.
Although they call White Buffalo Turquoise, it is actually not. It is mined near Tonapah, NV and lies in the veins like Turquoise surrounded by black chert, a black rok similar to flint. It cuts and polishes like turquoise and so was mistakenly named "White Buffalo Turquoise." When selling the stone, it should be just be called White Buffalo.
Wild Horse is a fairly new stone that was discovered in the mid-90's near the Globe copper mine in the Gila wilderness area of southern Arizona. It is a mixture of magnesite and hematite and has a chocolate brown web appearance with off white spots resembling a Appaloosa horse within the stone...a remarkably popular choice.
Spiny Oyster Shell
Scientifically called Spondylus. Colors vary considerably from purple, orange, red & yellow. Spiney oyster shells are found in the Gulf of California, the Pacific Coast & South in the warm waters of South America.
Navajo Pearls is a term given to the unique craftsmanship of Native American handmade beads. Each bead is individually stamped, domed, and strung. Showcased within each Pearl lies the tradition, skill and artistic mastery of the Navajo silversmith.
Boulder Turquoise is simply when a stone cutter takes natural Vein Turquoise and cuts in the direction to create the vein going through the rock. A large majority of Boulder Turquoise is found in the famous Royston and Pilot Mountain mines in Nevada.