Native American Chiclet (Chicklet) Necklaces

Santo Domingo Chiclet Necklace

In 1899, US gum manufacturers formed a conglomerate, The American Chicle Company.

In 1906 Frank Fleer (does his name ring a bell, bubble gum lovers?) began making a hard-shelled, candy-coated white peppermint gum called Chiclets.

Chicle is the English version of the word tzikiti (“sticky stuff”), the Nahuatl word for the resin that makes chewing gum. Oddly enough though, Chiclets are made from a different gum base!

By 1920, Chiclets were available in bright colors: yellow, green, orange, red, white, and pink. The small shiny rectangles each had a different flavor – mostly fruits; the white was still peppermint.

Chiclets Gum

Native Americans, most specifically Santo Domingo artists, began calling their colorful, multi-stone necklaces “Chiclet Necklaces” and it is easy to see why.

Santo Domingo Chiclet Necklace

Some Santo Domingo artists add small treasures among the chiclets and call the necklaces Treasure Necklaces.

Santo Domingo Treasure Necklace with Fetish Bear

Santo Domingo Treasure Necklace with Pipestone Hummingbird Fetish


13 thoughts on “Native American Chiclet (Chicklet) Necklaces

  1. I have never know the name of these necklaces, even though they are commonly seen in the American Southwest. I assumed this type of jewelry was a way to use up odd little pieces of stone and shells.
    It is interesting that the name chicle comes from a Nahuatl word, as do so many other Mexican food words.
    Thank you for another interesting article.

    Kathleen

  2. Thanks for the visit and comment !
    In some ways I think you are correct, that the necklaces are a great way to use up odd bits of this and that.
    On the other hand, some are so grandly crafted that you know the materials were specifically purchased and/or made for the necklaces.
    They are cheerful to wear, very spring like !

  3. I purchased one of these just last week in Santa Fe. It has seven strands and its just so happy and cheerful.

    Mine seems to have bits & pieces, odds & ends and some things that were probably carved just for it. I am absolutely thrilled with it and I look forward to many years of pleasure wearing this fun necklace.

    I had never heard of a treasure necklace when i bought it, so I was thrilled to find this site and read all about the necklaces.

      • Yes! It goes perfectly with summer clothing and I think it will look nice with a turtleneck this winter. I love the darn thing enough to wear it year round.

        I am so glad to find out about the necklace, as I had several people refer to it as “junky” and “carnival trash”. It broke my heart because I love it.

        I bought it from an elderly Santa Domingo lady who was just a delight….she was a shrewd seller, but I feel like we both got a fair deal.

        Thank you for elevating my necklace back up to the thing of beauty & fun that it always was in my eyes.

  4. And sometimes in the winter we need a perky necklace to liven things up ! I love wearing such a necklace with a turtleneck in the cooler weather – I’m glad you mentioned that !

    But I know just what you mean. We’ve bought beautiful estate lots from people who inherited the jewelry but said they’d never wear it and thought it was “clunky” and when it arrived here, it was gorgeous stone and work. So, as always beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and jewelry is a matter of taste.

    Sounds like you had a great experience ! And ended up with a wonderful treasure.

  5. Hi, Paula,

    I bought this necklace at a yard sale recently and was wondering if you could share any information about it? Zuni? Navajo? Any idea of it’s value?

    Thank you very much!!!
    Janet in Montana

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