Our Annual Native American Jewelry Buying Trip Reveals……..

We just got back from our annual spring buying trip where we seek out the new and beautiful items made by Native American artists in the southwest US.

Here is what we found. No surprise here. Because the prices of silver and gold are higher, the price of Native American jewelry is higher.

But you might not know this. Small things like earrings, pins and light bracelets are just not being made, so are not available.

Medium weight pieces are not as readily available as last year and those that are cost 1 1/2 to 2 times what they did last  year this time. The same item we might have purchased last year at 65 grams for $150 looks pretty much the same but now weighs only 52 grams and costs $225.

Heavy, quality pieces are available and they are where it seems artists are focusing their time.

So we have begun listing the treasures.

Visit our NEW page to see the latest and greatest !!

Hand Stamped Native American Cross Wanted

Hi Paula,

The cross in the attached photo was bought in New Mexico somewhere between Zuni & Navajo reservations – It was about 2.25 -2.5” in length – my husband lost his over the summer and we are trying to find another just like it – Can you help?

Thank you!  Denise

Hi Denise,

I have one very similar made by Francis Begay – it has a clear turquoise cabochon in the center. It is 2 1/2″ long including the fixed bail.

Hope this helps as I know how it is to lose a favorite piece of jewelry – often it is difficult to impossible to replace exactly  – especially when the piece was hand made.

We have found that one year we might purchase a certain pendant from an artist and when we want more the next year, he or she has moved onto different things and isn’t “set up” to make those any more. Navajo artists, especially, are quite inventive and always changing the items they make to suit themselves, the availability of materials and the market.

Best of luck,

 

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Horace Iule and his Zuni Cross Legacy

Horace Iule (1901-1978) was a Zuni artist who made a wide variety of sterling silver and stone pieces, most notably traditional Zuni crosses.

Horace worked with his wife Lupe Iule, who was from San Felipe Pueblo. They were married in 1933, and had six children: Ruby, Lupe, Cecilia, Robert, Barney, and Phillip. Cecilia continues in her fathers tradition with the crosses.

Cecilia creates her crosses from tiny to huge and uses coral, turquoise, and other gem stones.

Vintage Malachite and Opal Cross by Cecilia Iule, Zuni

Horace Iule was taught silversmithing by his father. He made sand-cast items and then embellished them with hammering and die stamping. His children use some of his original casting equipment to continue the Iule cross legacy.


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Native American Materials – Sleeping Beauty Turquoise

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is bright blue turquoise with distinct, often black, matrix. The matrix is the veining that appears in the stone.

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Belt Buckle by Navajo Dan Martinez

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Belt Buckle by Navajo Dan Martinez

The mine is located in Globe, Arizona in Gila County.

Sleeping Beauty turquoise is a uniform blue turquoise that is easily matched and cut so is a popular choice in Native American jewelry.

 

Sleeping Beauty Nugget Bracelet by Navajo Wilbur Muskett Jr.

Sleeping Beauty Nugget Bracelet by Navajo Wilbur Muskett Jr.

 

Read more about the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Mine.

 

Sleeping Beauty Cross by Navajo Clem Nailwood

Sleeping Beauty Cross by Navajo Clem Nailwood

 

Native American Materials – Spiny Oyster

Spiny Oyster and Turquoise Naja with 3 Strand Necklace

Spiny Oyster and Turquoise Naja with 3 Strand Necklace

Sometimes people describe a Native American piece as having spiny oyster stones – similar to saying erroneously that a piece has “coral stones”.

About Coral

Coral History

Although spiny oyster is is durable, it is not a stone. It is a shell.

Navajo Spiny Oyster Pendant

Navajo Spiny Oyster Pendant

Spiny oyster, not surprisingly, is a shell (spondylus) that is covered with spines. It is found along the Pacific coast of Baja California and Baja Mexico.

Spondylus_princeps

It varies from vibrant red shading into oranges and purples, with definite striations and variation of the colors. Red spiny oyster has been used as a substitute for coral.

 

Santo Domingo Spiny Oyster Necklace

Santo Domingo Spiny Oyster Necklace

 

Santo Domingo Rouge Spiny Oyster Necklace

Santo Domingo Rouge Spiny Oyster Necklace

Right now the orange spiny oyster beads and inlays are hot, hot, hot, so I thought you’d enjoy seeing some of the many variations of this beautiful natural material.

 

Sterling Silver Navajo Spiny Oyster Cross

Sterling Silver Navajo Spiny Oyster Cross

Inlay with spiny oyster can be smooth and sleek or chunky cobblestone. Here is one example of each.

Navajo Sterling Silver Inlay Horse Head

Navajo Sterling Silver Inlay Horse Head

Spiny Oyster Cobblestone Inlay Navajo Bear

Spiny Oyster Cobblestone Inlay Navajo Bear

As if the orange wasn’t beautiful enough, spiny oyster comes in all shades or reds and purples – something for everyone’s taste! Here are a few examples.

Purple Spiny Oyster Treasure Necklace by Navajo Tommy Singer

Purple Spiny Oyster Treasure Necklace by Navajo Tommy Singer

Santo Domingo Red Spiny Oyster Necklace

Santo Domingo Red Spiny Oyster Necklace

Watch our new page where you will see some other beautiful spiny oyster items added later this week.

Native American Pendants – Cross or Crucifix?

I’m an old Catholic (don’t get me started) and during my childhood, Catholics wore crucifixes. Now it seems crosses are more the norm? Do you have any information on that? Jeanette

I’m no expert Jeanette, but here is some general information and an opinion.

Native American Crosses

Native American Crosses

A crucifix is a cross with a corpus (body) on it – the body of Jesus Christ – and is a symbol mostly used by the Catholic Church.

A cross has no body on it.

There are many types of crosses.

One of the types is the Christian Cross which is a symbol of Christianity in general, not specific to any one Christian religion. It shows belief in and devotion to Jesus Christ, Christ or God.

The cross can symbolize so many specific things to so many people, but the recent popularity of the symbol in jewelry seems to be a declaration and celebration of Christianity.

Gold and Silver Cross by Navajo artist Richard Singer

Gold and Silver Cross by Navajo artist Richard Singer

Navajo and Zuni Crosses from Tiny to Huge

One person’s “large” is another person’s “small” and vice versa. I’ve learned that size is very relative.

I’ve had people contact us looking for a small Native American cross pendant and they mean 2-3″ tall and the next person that wants a small cross means 1/2″ tall.

So I’ve reorganized all of our crosses into size categories. The fabulous webmaster here put all of the photos in scale so now you can see how the crosses relate to each other in terms of size.

Just to keep life simple, I went with

Small – under 2 ” tall

Medium – 2 – 3 ” tall

Large – over 3″ tall (and several are over 5″ tall !!)

The height of crosses like all other pendants is measured from the top of the bail to the bottom of the pendant. Some pendants have very large bails so that will add substantially to the overall length but since the bail plus the pendant results in the total drop length (where it will hang on you !), the bail is included as part of the total height.

Here are a few pics in scale to give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Small Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses

Small Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses

Medium Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses

Medium Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses

Large Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses

Large Zuni and Navajo Sterling Silver Crosses