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How To Use Gemstones To Create Native American Jewelry

The possibilities available to you when designing jewelry can sometimes seem like they border on endless.

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There are so many different kinds of gemstones and materials out there that can make your jewelry pop. This is no exception when you narrow the style of jewelry to that of Native American jewelry, which itself has its own variety of options out there for your to consider. If you’re curious about Native American designs, gemstones, and other materials, read on for more information on creating Native American inspired pieces.

Styles and Traditions

Native American jewelry can range in styles and design due to the sheer number of tribes and traditions held by the Native American communities throughout North America, many of which go back centuries.

Additionally, many modern tribal artists in the American Southwest have a lot of inspiring new designs, whether they’re at independent markets and stores or through a more centralized vendor like the Southwest Silver Gallery.

Using Gemstones

Native American tribes typically use uncut gemstones that have been smoothed and shaped through water tumbling. By placing these stones in a machine called a rock tumbler, artists are able to give gemstones the smooth, polished finish you see in many pieces.

Pieces that are used for inlays often have to be more directly shaped to fit a specific mold, so these stones are often cut after they are tumbled.

Types of Gemstones

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Some of the more basic design elements include the use of silver, natural, river tumbled stones, and strung beads. The most popular stones used in Native American designs include turquoise, coral, amethyst, lapis lazuli, onyx, and malachite.

Each of these stones often has some cultural significance and metaphysical meaning, so using them in jewelry is more than just a beautiful accent, it actually impacts the energy of the wearer. Turquoise, for example, is thought to protect the wearers spirit from negative intentions, while lapis lazuli is thought to enhance connection and awareness with spirit guides.

Decide on the Right Design

When it comes to designing your piece, you first should consider the stone you want to feature. Are you using beads or water tumbled stones? Are you casting in silver or working with leather? Your materials will help you dictate your design.

While beads may be a simple matter to string in a pleasing sequence, since water tumbled stones are not created in specific shapes or sizes, you will have to work around the inconsistencies and quirks of your chosen stone. Consider its size and shape when working on your design to ensure it fits correctly.

Let’s say you want to use multiple gemstones in a bracelet or necklace. First, they should probably be small or medium sizes to create a piece that isn’t too big, heavy, or overwhelming. You might also want to think about grouping your stones in a specific way around the piece or clustering them in the ideal design.

Consult with Tribal Representatives

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As a matter of courtesy, if you yourself are not a member of one of the many tribes that design jewelry in the American Southwest, which include the Navajo and the Apache. It can be a major benefit to your designs and use of gemstones if you consult with members of one of these tribes.

In meeting with a tribal representative who can educate you, you can avoid any embarrassment or even offense at a design that means something you didn’t intend.

More importantly, you may well learn of new techniques and designs you didn’t think were possible. This can include traditional gemstone designs that anyone can use, such as pendants and bracelets you may see being worn in a non-formal manner by members of the tribe.

Creating Art

If you consider these tips and pieces of advice, you’ll soon be well-versed in your ability to design Native American jewelry that both honors and respects the traditional culture while still being gorgeous and eye-catching. Discover the beauty of Native American design today!

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