As with many things, the art of making jewelry and bracelets differs from tribe to tribe. While some may favor a larger stone, others may focus solely on the sterling silver to craft their works of art. The Navajo tribe has their own distinct style when it comes to making bracelets as well. Telling their work apart from other tribes is a simple matter of looking at a few key details of the piece and seeing how they compare to traditional Navajo jewelry crafting techniques.
About Native American Navajo Bracelets
The Size- One of the most recognizable aspects of Navajo bracelets is the size. Both the silver and the stone that is featured in the bracelets will be large. This style is typical of their artisan and their use of natural materials to honor the land in which they live.
The Cut- Another indicator of Navajo art is the use of inlay, which is a type of silversmith technique that carves the various designs into the silver, as opposed to overlay, which places layers of silver on top of one another to create pattern and symbols.
The Stone- Now, many tribes use turquoise in their jewelry, but none more so than the Navajo. This stone is usually the main feature of the piece and appears at the center as the largest and most recognizable aspect of the bracelet as a whole. Since it’s used by multiple tribes, it’s important to keep in mind the proportions of the turquoise stones used and to make sure that it’s a prominent feature.
The Hallmark- This one is a little less reliable, but is helpful to know if you have a few of the other clues above to go off of. The hallmark used for most Navajo pieces will be a simple initial of the artist’s name. This contrasts other tribes, like how the Hopi will use a symbol in place of initials, tribe, or the entire name.
Taking all these elements under consideration will help you spot true Navajo pieces and perhaps even identify some Navajo bracelets that you already own so you can learn the background and meaning of the piece as a whole.