Navajo

Navajo

Navajo, Indians of the high plains

The Navajo (also called Dineh, meaning "people") are originally from the northern part of the United States. Their nomadic way of life led them to gradually settle in the West from the 15th century. Their current territory is immense: it extends from New Mexico to Arizona and includes a southern part of Utah.

It is while moving west that the Navajo met a sedentary tribe, the Pueblo, known to live in traditional flat-roofed houses called Adobe Houses. The two tribes, after engaging in a territorial war, ended up cohabiting in a cordial understanding and sharing traditions: growing corn, weaving blankets, and making jewelry.

Artists by nature, the Navajo knew how to borrow various know-how, adapt them and create their own style. In the 1850’s, their craft grew and gave birth to the exceptional jewelry we know today. The Navajos generally work the turquoise stone in the most natural state possible, leaving it in its original form, bigger and rougher, to make spectacular pieces.

 

They are also known for particular silversmithing processes:

Applique: this technique is most often identified by squash blossoms(squash is essential for Natives as it represents good crops), leaves and feathers. All these elements are chiselled in thin silver plates and then soldered to a smooth silver frame. On some jewels, the Applique technique is sometimes enhanced by turquoise or coral.

 

Repousse: This process can be recognized by the presence of curved elements, often in the shape of a drop or a moustache, surrounded by oxidized silver stamps. We find this craft on beautiful Native American belt buckles, but also on silver earrings, bracelets, and rings.

 

Sandcast and Tufacast are traditional processes used by Navajo jewellers since the beginning of time. The artist takes a mold of hardened sand (sandcast) or a volcanic stone (called Tufa) and divides it into two parts. One of these parts is carved with a pattern of his/her choice, into which he/she pours the molten silver. The second part covers this pattern and is firmly attached to the first one. Once the silver has hardened, the piece is removed from the mold, which in most cases breaks, creating a unique piece with an antique and original appearance on which the roughness of the Sandcast or Tufacast can be seen.

Some Navajo pieces have become iconics of Navajo jewelry work, such as the Conchas (Concho Belts) and Squash Blossom necklaces.

Conchas are made of a leather strap decorated with silver pieces in oval and a butterfly shapes, embossed and sometimes set with turquoises. You have surely seen these superb Native American belts in westerns, fashion shows or on Jim Morrison, who regularly and proudly wore his.

The Squash Blossom is an impressive ceremonial necklace composed of several silver pieces sometimes set with turquoises, and which central pendant is a Naja, that recalls the shape of a horseshoe.

More generally, Navajo jewelry has become emblematic and can be found throughout history, cinema and fashion. To name just a few examples, think of Johnny Halliday's rings and Lenny Kravitz adornments... all are traditional Navajo pieces available at Harpo. 

Selection of the month

    • Unisex One of a Kind piece
Navajo ring with a Blue Moon turquoise (Nevada) cabochon set in sterling silver. 
This stunning designer ring in oxidized silver is hammered on its inside and is carved of different designs in relief on its outside. The whole gives an exceptional jewel. 
Width (in mm): 19mm
Diameter of the stone (in mm): 10mm
This ring is in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA. If you don't find this ring in your size, please contact us, we may have it in stock.
    • Woman One of a Kind piece
Navajo ring with a Sonoran Gold turquoise (Arizona) set in sterling silver.
This ring is representative of the traditional Navajo silversmithing: the turquoise is surrounded by a silver twist wire, reminding the need to tame the stone as we tame a wild animal. Dimensions of the stone (HxL in mm) : 16mm x 15mm
This ring is in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA. If you don't find this ring in your size, please contact us, we may have it in stock.
    • Unisex One of a Kind piece
Sterling silver Navajo ring. 
This ring is made of a genuine former quater dollar coin. 
Coin diameter (mm) : 24mm
This ring is made of sterling. 
Proudly handmade in USA. If you don't find this ring in your size, please contact us, we may have it in stock.
    • Man Man model
Handmade pair of moccasins in genuine sheep skin. 
Rubber sole. 
Color: ocher
Height : 6.2 unfold / 4.3 fold
These mocassins are crafted by the Hurons, a native tribe from Huron village (Wendake, Quebec) in Canada. For many moons the Hurons have been making fine mocassins, their traditional footwear.
These moccasins's sizes are in french size and fit to your usual size. 
Proudly handmade in Canada. 
    • Unisex Handmade pair of moccasins in genuine cow leather. Lining in synthetic fur. Handcrafted soles. 
Color: ocher
These mocassins are crafted by the Hurons, a native tribe from Huron village (Wendake, Quebec) in Canada. For many moons the Hurons have been making fine mocassins, their traditional footwear. 
These moccasins's sizes are in french size and fit to your usual size. 
Proudly handmade in Canada. 
    • Unisex Handmade pair of moccasins in genuine moose leather for babies, decorated with a row of fringes and colored beads. 
Color : natural 
Ideal for a birthday present. 
These mocassins are crafted by the Hurons, a native tribe from Huron village (Wendake, Quebec) in Canada. For many moons the Hurons have been making fine mocassins, their traditional footwear. 
These moccasins's sizes are in french size. 
Proudly handmade in Canada. 
    • Unisex Navajo pendant
Handcarved sterling silver feather. 
The feather symbolizes peace and freedom of spirit. Size (HxL) : 60mm x 19mmThis pendant is made in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA
 
    • Unisex One of a Kind piece.
Navajo pendant made of a beautiful Kingman turquoise (Arizona) set in sterling silver.
This piece reflects the traditionnal work of the Navajos: the artist defines the shape of the jewel thanks to the natural shape of the stone.
Here, this turquoise is surrounded by a twist wire, reminding the need to tame the stone as we tame a wild animal. The setting of this pendant is also finely stamped of the personal various patterns of the artist. 
Dimensions (H x L in mm) including pendant ring: 36mm x 17mm
This pendant is made in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA. 
    • Unisex One of a Kind piece
This double-sided pendant shows two remarkable styles of inlay techniques, inspired by the Zuni. Each of its side represents Sunface, the sacred Sun Father, symbol of life. 
One of the sides is made with the Cobble Inlay technique, known to be a contemporary technique that reminds the ancestral art of mosaic. It is made of Sleeping Beauty turquoise (Arizona), black-jet and bone. This style has a superbly thick aspect. 
The other face is a traditionnal inlay technique, made of apple coral, sugilite, black-jet, bone and lapis-lazuli. In this process, the stones are finely carved, put together and polished to have a smooth and elegant finish. Diameter (in inches): 0,8
Setting in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA.
    • Woman Navajo bracelet
    • Woman One of a Kind piece
Navajo bracelet with stunning Kingman turquoises (Arizona) set in sterling silver. 
The central turquoise is hand-carved in a rectangular shape and is surrounded by a thin twist wire. This detail is representative of Navajo jewelry: it is considered the stone must be tamed as a wild animal. 
This beautiful turquoise is enhanced with two drop-shaped turquoise and silver spheres. 
The setting of this bracelet is hand-carved of six furrows of oxydized silver, giving even more character to this beautiful jewel. 
Wrist size (in inches): 6.6
Width (in mm): 19mm
This bracelet is made in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA. 
    • Man One of a Kind piece
Navajo sterling silver bracelet. 
This bracelet is entirely hand-carved and handcrafted with the oxydation technique, a chemical process that blackens the silver. These elements gives a lot of character and style to this bracelet. Wrist size (in inches): 7Width (in mm): 15mm
This bracelet is in sterling silver. 
Proudly handmade in USA. 
    • Unisex Zuni fetish. Unique piece.
Turtle carved in alabater with eyes in Sleeping Beauty turquoise and shell details on coral. 
The turtle symbolizes protection, longevity, love and knowledge (it is the mother of the earth).
Dimensions (H x L x l) in mm = 20 x 110 x 85
In a time when the Zuni tribe lived from agriculture and hunting, the hunters could'nt do without these amulets and would never forget to bring them during their expeditions. The fetishes assure benevolence of the soul.Each animal represents its spirit, its own inner force and protects its owner.
Proudly handmade in USA.
    • Unisex Zuni Fetish. Unique piece. 
    • Unisex Zuni Fetish. Unique piece.  
Buffalo carved in gorgone with Sleeping Beauty turquoise eyes. 
We can see an arrow on this fetish, that goes from its mouth to its heart. This arrow represents the line of life: The animal's breath, allowing it to dominate and master its prey.
The buffalo symbolizes plentiness, endurance, and fulfill wishes. 
Dimensions (H x L x l) in mm = 26 x 40 x 11
In a time when the Zuni tribe lived from agriculture and hunting, the hunters could'nt do without these amulets and would never forget to bring them during their expeditions. The fetishes assure benevolence of the soul.Each animal represents its spirit, its own inner force and protects its owner.
Proudly handmade in USA.

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