One aspect of Native American culture is that the people are known or their skills in making handcrafted jewelry. Many Native American groups specialize in a particular style of jewelry or in a specific jewelry making technique. Zuni inlay jewelry is one of these styles.
The Zuni tribe is from Arizona and New Mexico, and Zuni people are settled along the Zuni River. The Zuni inlay jewelry technique is used to make necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings and even belt buckles.
About Zuni Inlay Jewelry
Zuni inlay jewelry is among the most beautiful and complicated forms of Native American made jewelry. Zuni inlay jewelry is known for its variety of stones such as turquoise and pearls and for the elaborate carving of silver or gold. Zuni inlay jewelry incorporates many colors to create a wide variety of stunning products.
Zuni inlay jewelry is sometimes made in what is called a channel design. In this style the artist carves a channel into silver or gold. The artist then places fine stones within the channels. Zuni inlay jewelry made with channels can incorporate stones such as shells, coral and turquoise.
Another style of Zuni inlay jewelry is called overlay inlay jewelry. This technique involves carving open designs in one piece of silver and then soldering on top of another plain piece so that the designs show through. The Zuni inlay jewelry artist then places stones inside the cut out part of the silver.
Finding Authentic Zuni Inlay Jewelry
Zuni inlay jewelry is often faked. Authentic pieces will always use real stones and high quality gold or silver rather than being silver or gold plated. The highest quality Zuni inlay jewelry will have a mosaic effect with no gaps in between the stones. Sometimes Zuni inlay jewelry artists will make pictures with the stones, very much like a mosaic. This came from ancient Zuni artists who traditionally worked in mosaic.
Another detail of high quality Zuni inlay jewelry is that the stones are cut to exactly fit the complex channels. Sometimes the design of Zuni inlay jewelry will resemble an animal such as a snake or horse. Animals have spiritual meaning to the Native American people, and the jewelry often conveys that meaning.
Zuni inlay jewelry is some of the most beautiful, elegant jewelry in the world. The Zuni people are respected and renowned for their knowledge of inlay techniques in jewelry making. These incredible pieces are true treasures of the Zuni culture.