I love snake eye jewelry and when I use the term I have found that even long-time Native American jewelry enthusiasts don’t know what I mean.
Snake eye is a technique of setting very small spherical pieces of turquoise. It is somewhat related to petit point and needle point but different in shape and much smaller.
Although these techniques began with Zuni artists around 1930-1940, today they are associated with both Zuni and Navajo jewelers.
All 3 techniques use cabochons, which are small stones that have been rounded on top (not faceted) and polished. It is the shape that differs.
Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words. Some examples……..first of PETIT POINT – teardrop shaped – round on one end, pointed on the other.
Petit Point stick barrette by Navajo Zeita Begay, contemporary
Petit Point set by Phillip and Virginia Byjoe – Navajo, Vintage
Petit Point Cuff by Johnny Mike Begay, Navajo, Vintage
NOW ON TO NEEDLEPOINT – long and narrow, pointed on both ends.
Needle Point Zuni Bracelet and Ring by EVA L WYACO, contemporary
Needle Point barrette by Nathaniel Nez – Navajo, contemporary
And finally to SNAKE EYE – the reason for this post in the first place. Spherical. These can range from small to tiny. Here are several examples of snake eye jewelry in various sizes.
Large Snake Eye – Ring by Elanda Wyaco – Zuni, vintage
Medium Snake Eye – Bolo by Bernall Natewa, Zuni, vintage
Tiny Snake Eye – Link bracelet by Stephen Haloo, Zuni, contemporary
So now that you are an expert, what would you call the ones in the photos below?