Native American jewelry is prized by many. It has developed into different beautiful styles by various tribes.
Though Native Americans crafted jewelry before contact with Europeons, most of the early jewelry was made from natural materials like bones, shells and wood. From the Navajo, one of the most well-known Native American jewelry makers, came a blacksmith named Atsidi Sani. When he learned how to do work with silver from the Spanish, and not just iron, he began to make bracelets, conchas and other jewelry. This was around 1850.
Another Navajo, Atsidi Chon, was the first to craft jewelry using turquoise with the silver. The Navajo developed their craft using their typical silver leaves, flowers and beads. They also used hand stamp work and sandcast jewelry. Naja pendants and their well known squash blossom neclaces (from a Spanish pomegranate design) are staples in Navajo design.
In the early 1900s, the Navajo Atsidi Chon taught the Zunis some of his methods with silver. The Zuni had made jewelry for hundreds of years, especially dealing with the carved animal shaped stone fetishes. However, the introduction of silversmithing was the start of the style they are perhaps best known for today.