The Zuni are an Indian tribe who reside on the
Arizona / New Mexico border, along the Zuni River. The Zuni are
famous for their carvings, mosaic work, and fine inlay jewelry.
One of the
earliest Zuni jewelry styles is
cluster work. It is characterized by a large grouping of stones set
in a metal, typically silver, bezel. The stones are held in place with
an adhesive. Pear shaped
turquoise stones are the most common.
Zuni Petitpoint Jewelry
Usually of turquoise, jet, or coral, Zuni petit point, sometimes
called needlepoint, is the shaping of smaller stones in either circle or
tear shaped stones. A time consuming process; needlepoint is
beautifully mounted in traditional Native American jewelry.
Zuni Channel Inlay Jewelry
Channel inlay is a variation of mosaic inlay.
Zuni inlay jewelry consists of channel inlayed turquoise, jet, shell,
coral, and other precious metals and stones. Complex, channel designs
are fashioned in silver on a lower silver layer. Turquoise, coral,
shell, or other stone is then precisely cut to fit the channels.
Overlay Inlay Jewelry
Overlay inlay jewelry features two pieces of silver.
One piece of silver is used for the backing and
the second piece cut in a shape or pattern is soldered on top. Rather
than leaving the silver empty as in Hopi overlay, Zuni artists fill the
opening with stones laid in to form a mosaic design.
Tips for Purchasing Zuni Jewelry
Material - Ensure the quality of the materials.
Real Zuni jewelry uses real coral and turquoise while imitations use
plastic or resin. Also, try to verify the grades of gold and
Workmanship - Imitation Zuni jewelry may appear to be similarly
made in look and materials
but when compared closely to authentic pieces the difference is more
obvious. For example the best inlay is seamless with no gaps or
Hallmarks - Most jewelers sign their work with a unique stamp
so you can look
for pieces that are stamped and do your research on the artist to verify.
For example, you may research whether a particular Is the piece's design
is consistent with other pieces by the artist?
Zuni Jewelry Images