Zuni Jewelry

Inlay

The Zunis are famous for a particular type of stonework called inlay. Here stones are worked and then fit together, sometimes side by side, called stone-to-stone, or with silver channels in between, known as channel inlay. The Zunis do not cast the silver. Each piece is meticulously fabricated. The predominant colors and stones used in traditional Zuni inlay are turquoise, red coral, black jet, and white mother of pearl. Symbolically, red represents Mother Earth and turquoise Father Sky. The black and white of the other stones is a further representation of dualities. Other stones that may be used in Zuni jewelry are pink coral, abalone, green snail shell, orange or purple spiny oyster, melon shell, and fossilized ivory. Most materials used in Zuni fetishes and jewelry are not indigenous to Zuni Pueblo. 

 

Petit Point

Not all Native Americans make silver and turquoise jewelry. The Indians in the Southwest who are especially known for their jewelry are the Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo peoples. The Zuni are known for their very intricate stonework and almost never do plain silver jewelry. The most traditional Zuni style of jewelry is called petit point, which can be identified by tiny turquoise stones each supported in its own bezel, or metal "sleeve." It is extremely time-consuming work and is very delicate in appearance. The Zunis are known for using sterling silver and natural turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty Mine. The work is priced by the amount of handiwork, not the weight of the silver or the value of the turquoise.