The Navajo Nation is famous for its beautiful coral jewelry

Posted by tedmark on January 19th, 2015

The Navajo Nation is probably the most well-known Native American Tribe. A nomadic people, this nation has a very rich history which comprises surprising elements, like the fact that its language was used in World War II as a secret code between Allies. The cultural heritage of the Navajo people is immense, and their artistry is unmatched – to this day, they produce wonderful jewelry that’s craved by many passionate collectors.

What makes the Navajo Nation special is its history and beliefs. Navajo people are fond of tradition and they have a vast collection of legends which are passed down from generation to generation. The people from this tribe believe that man is deeply connected to nature, being integral part of it, and that the entire natural world has inescapable interconnections. This is the philosophy that rules their world and their guide in everything they do. The deep respect they have for all nature shows in the cultural artifacts they produce: the Navajo Nation is well known for its pottery, for its figurines and, as of more lately, for the jewelry produced by its artists. Initially, the first Navajo tribes used all sorts of animal remains – bone or coral – to create jewelry. The role of coral jewelry back then was to identify the tribe to whom a person belonged, because each tribe had different materials, different representations they used to distinguish themselves from other clans. It was only in the 18th-19th century that coral jewelry started becoming more popular, as Navajo artists starting selling their jewelry to non-Indians. 

Today, authentic Navajo coral jewelry is extremely valuable, because the artists still use traditional techniques to craft jewelry. No two coral jewelry pieces are alike, because each coral is different and because each artist leaves his own personal imprint on each item created. Some artists love working with coral and silver, while others like mixing different materials and gemstones to create more intricate and impressive jewelry. However, even if artists have their own vision in what concerns jewelry design, there is something that unites them: the use of organic and natural materials. Coral, as you know, is a natural gemstone that can be found in tropical oceans and which sustains life in the reefs. Because of its scarcity, this organic material is very valuable and very much prized by Indian artists, who use it to craft museum-worthy jewelry masterpieces.

Coral jewels are also more precious than other types of jewelries because coral is soft and thus can be shaped into various designs much easier than other gemstones. However, coral is also more delicate and needs special care. Indian artists usually enclose coral in silver to keep the stones intact and to emphasize their color and beauty. Coral jewels represent some of the most beautiful cultural products of the Navajo Nation, products which should be maintained and preserved in good condition. After all, these handcrafts are part of our global cultural heritage.

The Navajo Nation is well known for its artistry in creating jewelries: their coral jewelry looks very elegant and is highly valuable.

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