Silver jewelry is probably the best known form of Native American art. It is not an ancient art. Southwest Native Americans began working in silver around 1850. Jewelry was the way many Native Americans showed their wealth. Coins were used for silver in the early days.

Navajo silverwork can be made many ways. One way is to carve a stone with a knife and pour the silver into the shape. This is called sandcasting.

Another way is to cut the shape out of silver and use a stamp to make a design. Stamps were made from any bit of scrap iron, including spikes, old chisels and broken files.

Turquoise is used in jewelry . This didn't start happening until 1880's. Turquoise is found in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.


The color of turquoise is from a pale chalky blue -almost white- to a very deep green. The price of a stone will depend on its hardness, color and markings. Some turquoise has pyrite (fools gold) veins like the one in the picture.

More to Know about Silverwork and Turquoise

Turquoise Road : this is a detailed history of turquoise in the Southwest

Sunshine Studios: many pictures of silver jewelry for sale