The Zuni Indians are located just south of the Navajo Indian Reservation which is about 32 mile S.E. of Gallup New Mexico. Zuni Jewelry began around 1880 when the Navajo Silversmiths taught them the trade. The original Zuni Jewelry was similar to Navajo Jewelry until they started working with Turquoise and creating Zuni Turquoise Jewelry. The Zuni took to lapidary work and began incorporating Turquoise in very unique designs into their Jewelry.
There are three major styles of Zuni Jewelry that have been being made since the 1920's, Zuni Needlepoint Jewelry, Zuni Petit Point Jewelry and Zuni Inlay Jewelry. Zuni Needlepoint is as in the Turquoise Bracelet below on the left, the Zuni cut individual stones in the shape of the eye of a needle and then design creative clusters of stones to create their Jewelry. Zuni Petit Point Jewelry is as in the Bracelet below to the right where the stones are cut into various shaped tiny stones such as round, oval, pear, square and rectangles and then set into handcrafted Sterling Silver Zuni Jewelry designs. Zuni Inlay Jewelry is as in this photo below, sterling silver Jewelry items are made with channels to glue precut and specifically shaped stones into, this is called inlaying. The stones are ground, sanded and polished to finish individual pieces of Zuni Inlayed Jewelry.
Above are examples of Zuni Jewelry that has been inlayed with Turquoise and other gemstones. Zuni Inlay Jewelry has been admired worldwide by collectors and individuals that appreciate Quality Artisan Jewelry. Zuni Inlay Jewelry is world class quality and is admired and collected by in the know individuals worldwide and is a great investment for the future. Zuni Jewelry is also an American Heritage.
Zuni Turquoise Jewelry
The Zuni Indians have incorporated Turquoise into the design of their work since the inception of their Jewelry. Zuni Turquoise Jewelry is differant and unique to itself as they had developed unique designs from the beginning and continued refining them for decades. Zuni Turquoise Jewelry is some of the finest Turquoise Jewelry that has been made in the past and is still being made today. Zuni Jewelers are true artisans and craftsmen.
To the left is a photo of a high quality intricate Zuni Needlepoint Bracelet and a Zuni Needlepoint Ring. It is called Needlepoint as the stones are in the shape of the eye of a needle. Each stone is individually cut by the Zuni Artisans and the Silverwork is also created by the same Zuni Artisan. To the right is a very nice Zuni Petit Point Bracelet, this type of work is called Petit Point as the design is created from tiny petit stones that are cut in the same shapes and clustered into the design. Petit Point stones are shaped in round, oval, pear, square and rectangle. Zuni Indians have been creating Petit Point Jewelry for decades and their designs continue to amaze Jewelers throughout the world.
To the left is a beautiful Zuni Inlay buckle set. This buckle set was inlayed with Turquoise, Coral, Yellow Shell and Jet, this is called multi-color inlay. Zuni Artisans are world renown for their incredible lapidary talent as their inlay Turquoise and gemstone work is wonderful. The Turquoise Inlay Bracelet was channel inlaid into Sterling Silver. This is a simplistic design, yet, a piece of Jewelry Art that is cherished by anyone who owns a piece such as this.
Here are two different pair of Zuni Inlay Earrings - To the left is a pair of multi-colored gemstone Zuni handcrafted Earrings. The stones are designed and cut into a mosaic pattern and then set into bezel settings of Sterling Silver. The Zuni mosaic work on the right is quite different as the Kokopelli's are cut and laminated together and then laminated onto another piece of Jet. This makes this type of work very dimensional.
Above are two uniquely different pieces of Zuni Jewelry - The Zuni Rainbow Man was channel inlaid with Turquoise, Coral, Mother of Pearl and Jet. This piece was created by sawing out the design on a top layer of Silver sheet and then laminating it onto a back Silver plate. The stones were then individually cut and inlayed into the channels that were created. You can see why Zuni Inlay Jewelry is so popular. The Zuni Needle Point - Petit Point Pin to the right is an older piece that has a combination of Needlepoint and Petit point Turquoise stones. Both are classic Zuni Jewelry designs.
Above are several pieces of Petit Point and one piece of Needlepoint Zuni Jewelry, can you see which one is the Needlepoint? Right - you are learning something here! These are all nice pieces of Vintage Zuni Jewelry which give you good examples of the different designs that are created with tiny Turquoise stones by the Zuni Indian Artisans. It is endless and they have been prolific in creating one great Jewelry design after another.
Here is a Zuni Concho Belt that incorporates Petit Point and Inlay. This unique piece was created several years ago and is considered a pictorial design as the Zuni created the Bird amongst floral and vines. The Zuni piece to the right was an old Zuni Earring that we rehabilitated into a pendant by adding a bail. The Zuni are famous for making great Zuni Turquoise Earrings that are light weight and dynamic in design.
To the left is a very unique vintage Zuni channel inlay necklace made about 1940. You can see how design has changed in the last 90 years as this was a popular style in the roaring 20's. The Rainbow Man Pin is another design that was popular in the early years of Zuni inlay. The Zuni still make the Rainbow Man design today.
The photo above is of a Zuni Petit Point Squash Blossom Necklace from the 1930 period. This is an outstanding example of Zuni Jewelry which shows you that the Zuni Indians have been fantastic artisans for a long time. This Zuni Necklace was made with blue Arizona Turquoise most likely from the Kingman Turquoise Mine which was one of the most popular Turquoise Mines at that period. Vintage Zuni Jewelry is highly collected by many antique collectors as it is thought of as some of the best Turquoise Jewelry that ever came out of the Southwest. You can see additional photos and information on this marvelous Zuni Necklace on its presentation page.
Books About Zuni Jewelry
Zuni the Art and the People by Ed and Barbara Bell. This is a 3 Volume set that is out of print but easy to find. Lots of pictures of Zuni jewelry and fetishes from the 1970s era.
Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry by Gordon Levy. Also out of print and also full of pictures of Zuni jewelry and artists from around the 1970s or so.
Zuni A Village of Silversmiths by James Ostler, Marian Rodee and Milford Nahohai. Finally a book that is in print! This one has a lot of nice photos but doesn’t try to be exhaustive about the artists.
Zuni Jewelry by Theda and Michael Bassman. This is chock full of photos of mostly contemporary pieces (1980s and later) but has an index which makes it extra useful.
Zuni Fetish Carvers the Mid-Century Masters by Kent McManis. This book though technically not about jewelry has many of the master fetish carvers in it, and also shows pictures of their fetish jewelry. A must have if you love Teddy Weahkee, Leo Poblano, or Leekya Deyuse!
We hope you have gained some useful knowledge from our - Zuni Jewelry educational presentation page. We invite you to learn more about Silver Jewelry, Indian Jewelry and Turquoise Jewelry by following the links in our Learning Center which has many other informational pages that we have written on topics related to Southwestern Silver Jewelry. In addition, we would like to invite you to join our E-Mail Newsletter - about once every other month we send out a Newsletter to inform our members of what's happening with Durango Silver Company, new products, specials for our members and more. We also have a monthly drawing from our members to Giveaway free Turquoise Jewelry from our company. Please take a moment to become one of our friends and future winners in our giveaway by signing in below. Thank you for reading our brief article about Zuni Jewelry.