Beyond Turquoise: Other Stones used in SW Native American Jewelry
Here at Indian Traders, we offer a very wide array of Native American jewelry including stunning pieces incorporating turquoise. Turquoise may be the most renowned stone used in the authentic jewelry created by the American Indians of the southwest, however there are many other semi-precious stones widely used as well and often paired with turquoise to magnificent effect.
Here we look at some of the other stones you’ll find in pieces available for purchase at Indian Traders…
Red coral is an organic gem derived from a colony of tiny marine animals. It was used in prehistoric times and by the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Romans believed it could offer protection from harm to children, as well as cure bites from scorpions and snakes. It was originally brought to the Americas from the Mediterranean by European settlers. It is often paired in cabochon form with turquoise in Navajo jewelry for a stunning effect, as well as inlaid with Jet, mother of pearl, and turquoise in Zuni pieces.
Jet is glasslike coal with organic origins, deriving from wood dating back millions of years. There is a large deposit of Jet in Utah and it is mined in the region of the Acoma Pueblo. Jet is very commonly used to carve fetishes. It is particularly used in inlay Native American jewelry. Jet is much lighter than but very similar in appearance to obsidian, onyx, Apache tear, and black tourmaline, all of which are used in Native American jewelry.
This deep brilliant blue stone has flecks of gold or silver hues within it, and the highest quality Lapis comes from Argentina, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is mined in small amounts in western Colorado as well as Egypt, Chile, Canada, Russia and Mongolia. It was one of the first stones to be worn as jewelry, and was prized in ancient Babylon and Egypt. The ancients believed it had magical powers. Lapis is easily scratched and must be cared for carefully. It is paired to best effect in a silver setting.
Mother of Pearl
This is a blend of minerals that are secreted by abalone, oysters, and other mollusc creatures with which to line their shells as protection against harm including from parasites. It is white or silver with some having an iridescent rainbow hue. It is commonly paired with other gemstones in Zuni pieces.
Spiny Oyster / Spondylus
A spiny oyster is a species of oyster covered in spines. This shell of the oyster is an organic gemstone harvested off the California coast and in the waters of the Sea of Cortez and in the Gulf of Mexico. It comes in hues from white to orange, red to purple. It pairs beautifully with turquoise and is used to make beads. This shell is frequently set in Navajo jewelry as a cabochon or inlaid with other gems.