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American Indian Jewelry

The history of American Indian jewelry dates back thousands of years, but throughout its longevity its designs share a richness of materials and a shared thread of narrative. American Indian jewelry tells a fascinating story of its creator, its tribe, and its era, all wrapped into one spectacular piece.

While the earliest examples of American Indian jewels can be traced to the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, it was around 8,000 B.C. that a profusion of jewelry designs emerged in the American southwest. Originally created with shell beads, jewelry soon adopted new precious metals and materials. The introduction of copper and silver, combined with beads and pendants crafted from coral and turquoise, allowed American Indian artists to both diversify their designs and create striking jewelry pieces.

Different tribes came to specialize in various media as well. The southwestern Navajo Indians, for instance, mastered silversmithing and the use of turquoise in their designs, while the Eastern Woodlands Indians excelled in the creation of beautiful and highly polished beads made from clam and sea snail shells.


Quick Facts

  • The oldest documented American Indian jewelry dates to approximately 10,000 B.C. The find consists of four bone earrings that were located near Fairbanks, Alaska
  • The first examples of copper jewelry date to around 3000 B.C. and can be traced to the Great Lakes region, an area that is rich with copper deposits
  • Though used in American Indian jewelry for millennia, turquoise inset into or mounted on silver is a relatively modern adaptation of American Indian traditions. It was not until the 1870s that such a combination was conjured by American Indian jewelry designers

Recommended Items at Auction

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Vintage Zuni Fetish Heishi Necklace 2 Strands
Dec 09, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Zuni Fetish Heishi Necklace 2 Strands
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$438 Bids
Vintage Navajo Ingot Carinated Sterling Bracelet
Dec 08, 10:00 AM EST
Vintage Navajo Ingot Carinated Sterling Bracelet
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$347 Bids
Southwest Style Sterling and Turquoise Necklace/Pendant
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Southwest Style Sterling and Turquoise Necklace/Pendant
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $75- $150
$1606 Bids
D.V. Hattie Zuni Sterling Native American Bolo Tie
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
D.V. Hattie Zuni Sterling Native American Bolo Tie
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $50- $150
$406 Bids
Native American Jewelry & Begay Earrings
Dec 09, 8:00 AM EST
Native American Jewelry & Begay Earrings
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $140- $300
$1106 Bids
Trade Silver Gorget
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Trade Silver Gorget
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$1256 Bids
Quilled Arm Bands
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Quilled Arm Bands
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$1506 Bids
Silver Navajo squash blossom necklace
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Silver Navajo squash blossom necklace
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $500- $700
$5506 Bids
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STERLING SOUTHWEST NAVAJO MOSAIC CUFF BRACELET
Dec 10, 2:00 PM EST
STERLING SOUTHWEST NAVAJO MOSAIC CUFF BRACELET
by Florida Estate Sales Inc.
Est: $100- $10,000
$605 Bids
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NAVAJO STERLING SOUTHWEST OPAL CUFF BRACELET
Dec 10, 2:00 PM EST
NAVAJO STERLING SOUTHWEST OPAL CUFF BRACELET
by Florida Estate Sales Inc.
Est: $100- $10,000
$455 Bids
Trade Silver Gorget
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Trade Silver Gorget
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$1255 Bids
Mark Chee, Navajo (1914-1981) Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet
Dec 09, 10:00 AM CST
Mark Chee, Navajo (1914-1981) Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $750- $1,000
$5505 Bids
Lot of 8 Indian Necklace and Earring Sets
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of 8 Indian Necklace and Earring Sets
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $100- $200
$905 Bids
Trade Silver Presentation Federal Eagle Carving Pendant
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Trade Silver Presentation Federal Eagle Carving Pendant
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$704 Bids
Native American Cuff Bracelet
Dec 11, 11:00 AM EST
Native American Cuff Bracelet
by Seminole Estate Auction & Liq. LLC
Est: $150- $300
$504 Bids
Sterling Silver Southwest Style Necklace
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Sterling Silver Southwest Style Necklace
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $150- $300
$604 Bids
Vintage Native American Motif Statement Ring
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Vintage Native American Motif Statement Ring
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $30- $60
$154 Bids
Navajo Sterling Silver & Turquoise Cross Pendant
Dec 10, 10:00 AM MST
Navajo Sterling Silver & Turquoise Cross Pendant
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$304 Bids
Vintage Native American Jewelry Estate Group Lot
Dec 09, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Native American Jewelry Estate Group Lot
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$213 Bids
Trade Pectoral Plains Style Bone Hair Pipe & Trade Beads
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Trade Pectoral Plains Style Bone Hair Pipe & Trade Beads
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$603 Bids
Bone Hair Pipe Breast Plate
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Bone Hair Pipe Breast Plate
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$403 Bids
A Fine Navajo Squash Blossom with Dimes and Sterling Half Dollars
Dec 09, 10:00 AM CST
A Fine Navajo Squash Blossom with Dimes and Sterling Half Dollars
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $900
$3753 Bids
Lot of Southwest Sterling Bracelets and Rings
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of Southwest Sterling Bracelets and Rings
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$403 Bids
BEA TOM NAVAJO STERLING TURQUOISE CLUSTER CUFF
Dec 10, 9:00 AM CST
BEA TOM NAVAJO STERLING TURQUOISE CLUSTER CUFF
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$2003 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Indian Jewelry


Bonhams

Bonhams

Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Wealthier Art & Auction

Wealthier Art & Auction

Appraisley

Appraisley