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Zuni Jewelry

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. 

Cluster Work

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 silver used.

  • 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 spaces.

  • 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

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