Gold Door Gallery The Best Custom Jewelry in Arizona

By: support | August 01, 2016

Best Jewelry Shopping Tips



The best jewelry shopping tips for getting accessories from a particular Native American tribe are here.


Tip 1- Know the history behind the artists

Tip 2- Buy from someone who belongs to the shopper's tribe of choice

Tip 3- Buy from a vendor who has recognized certifications


These jewelry shopping tips are easy to master and even more are contained in the entire article. Below is an overview of four Southwestern tribes and information on their unique jewelry styles. Knowing about their histories and employing the jewelry shopping tips included will make any shopper more confident.

Ancient Zuni Jewelry Customs

For thousands of years, the Zuni have been involved in making jewelry. Ancient relics from the Zuni tribe showcase their use of brightly colored gemstones. Turquoise and Jet were some of the first stones to show up in early jewelry work.

Zuni Mosaic Inlay - One of the today's popular Zuni styles. One traditional style of Zuni jewelry is a mosaic inlay. Inlay designs require a piece of silver to be cut into, leaving crevices for other elements to fill. The crevices compartmentalize colorful gemstones such as turquoise. It's a lot like looking at a mosaic if the tiles were stones and the grout was silver.

Zuni Carved Stone - One of today's favorite Zuni stylesThe Zuni natives are also famous for their stone carved animal jewelry. Usually, necklaces and bracelets are the most common uses for their stone carved animals. The necklaces will frequently have creatures carved out of turquoise and separated by handmade stone beads.

Zuni Cluster - One of today's popular Zuni styles another popular technique seen in Zuni jewelry is the cluster. Similar looking stones or shells will all be paired together on a piece. It's normal to see the group designs on pendants, earrings, and bracelets.

History Of Hopi Jewelry

The Zuni natives were not known for making jewelry until the early 1900s. The other two cultures influenced the Zuni who were surrounded by the Navajo and Hopi tribes. The Zuni soon began following their tips and most of their early jewelry pieces are difficult to distinguish from the others.


Jewelry shopping tips related to identifying Hopi accessories from this era are few. The best idea is to visit a Hopi village and look for a certified seller. Ultimately buyers have to trust that the seller is honest with them.

After the 1930s, the Hopi people began experimenting with other techniques. These new designs were evident not only in jewelry, but in their pottery and baskets too. The style is style famous today. It is the Southwestern mosaic inlay.

Hopi Inlay

Modern Hopi jewelry can still be hard to discern from Zuni and Navajo. One of the best jewelry shopping tips would be to look for turquoise with gold and diamonds. Designs are starting to blend among tribes, but the gold, diamond, and turquoise combinations are most likely Hopi.

Navajo Jewelry History

The ancient Navajos made their jewelry from wood and turquoise. Oral tradition suggests that the first people of the tribe believed the blue stones to be pieces of the sky. The Navajo were like the Vikings of the desert. Raiding other tribes and keeping the spoils was their tradition. Warriors adorned themselves with necklaces that were proof of their victories.

Soon the Spanish would try to conquer the Southwest, and the Navajo would take back their latest conquests. Silver, brass, gold, and copper would soon be their stolen style staples.

In the late 1800s, the Navajo people had learned the skill of smithing metals. One of their favorite ways to make jewelry was through coins. They had no use for money so melting them into designs for jewelry was common practice.

Navajo Squash Blossoms

One of the most well-known original Navajo jewelry designs is the squash blossom. Historians argue whether it's a moon and stars, fruit, or a flower. The squash blossom design was discovered as a sketch dating back to circa 1865. The first squash blossoms were plain silver, but today the squash blossom comes in a variety of different styles. One of the most obvious but useful jewelry shopping tips is to look for clues. If the Navajo jewelry is said to be from the late 1800s it should be very basic in design.

Navajo Jewelry Of Today

The most recent Navajo designs often incorporate the squash blossom but are rarely just silver. The necklace designs are often silver, gold, beads, and stones (especially turquoise). Beaded patterned necklaces and bracelets are also popular among the Navajo artists of today.

Santo Domingo Jewelry History

The Santo Domingo natives have a rich history in the jewelry making industry. Making jewelry was the biggest industry in the 1800s for the tribe. Men, women, and children spent time perfecting their skills and trying out new techniques.

Santo Domingo Shell Jewelry

Perhaps one of the smartest tips for identifying old Santo Domingo jewelry is to look for shell work. Their multistrand collars often had strung shells and stones for beads.

Santo Domingo Thunderbird Jewelry

The classic Thunderbird motifs began showing up in Santo Doming jewelry around 1920. They were a huge hit among tourists. Some Santo Domingo thunderbird jewelry was made from thrown away black and white plastic. One of the beneficial jewelry shopping tips experts recommend is looking for the plastics on the backs of the pendants.

Santo Domingo Jewelry Of Today

The Thunderbird is still seen in a lot of the Santo Domingo native adornments of today. Though now most professional artists use precious metals, not plastics. Santo Domingo jewelry is also known for its rolled beads consisting of coral and turquoise.

Final Jewelry Shopping Tips Not Related to Identification Techniques

  • The older the jewelry, the more it will be worth.
  •  If the jewelry is truly antique, it will have flaws and signs of wear.
  • "Southwestern style" doesn't necessarily mean Native American crafted.

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