The most prized southwestern Native American jewelry is Zuni. Quality pieces become heirlooms and are coveted for generations within families. Zuni jewelry is characterized by stonework – small pieces of stone cut and fashioned in a myriad of designs and stylings (in contrast with Navajo which is mainly large stones placed in a silver setting). The Zuni tradition of fine Native American jewelry traces back for many generations. The designs, techniques and styling are passed down through families and often extended to others through marriage. The Zuni jewelry tradition can even be credited with advancing the art of Zuni fetish carving. Inlay and fine carving techniques practiced by some carvers can be traced to parents who were jewelers.
Contemporary Zuni Jewelry Galleries
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Zuni jewelry is divided into three basic design categories – cluster, inlay (channel and flush) and needle-point/petit-point. There are many levels of quality – both in design and craftsmanship. Prices range from low to very high. The major categories in contemporary native american jewelry are – bracelets, rings, necklaces (both ‘chokers’ and squash blossoms), pins and pendants. There are also buckles, bolos, watch bracelets and more. And of course, Zunis are famous for the myriad of earring designs and stylings. Zuni designs are seminal and yet have been copied by many other Native artisans. Most Zuni artists are now signing or stamping their names or initials on their pieces.