Fine jewelry is not only found in major cultural centers such as New York and Paris. It has been produced by artisans and designers around the globe, using techniques steeped in local traditions and materials that are often as indigenous as the craftspeople sitting at their jeweler’s workbenches.
The earliest examples of Native American jewelry are usually called "old pawn," a phrase taken from the days when Native Americans would hock personal pieces of jewelry to make ends meet. Lots of Native American silver and turquoise pieces are routinely sold as old pawn, but only examples from the 1800s deserve that label. Silver was the base metal for most of these pieces, and one of the first styles seized upon by Navajo artists was the squash-blossom necklace.
Navajo artisans were also the first Native Americans to work with turquoise, which was common to the Southwest before it was mined out. The best Navajo necklaces and bracelets were labeled with the name of their source mine, just like a fine wine is labeled with the vineyard that has supplied its grapes. Due to the scarcity of local stone, it wasn’t long before high-quality turquoise was being imported, while softer, poorer-quality turquoise was often treated with resin to make it hard.
Other tribes worked with different materials to develop their own signature styles. The Pueblo, especially members of the Santa Domingo tribe, were highly skilled when it came to shell necklaces and mosaics. The Zuni added turquoise to the Navajo squash blossoms, and they also pioneered the use of red coral. As for the Hopi, their specialty has long been pins and other objects with patterns and treatments that suggest a textile heritage.
Farther south, in Mexico, silversmithing had been practiced for centuries. Indeed, Mexican silversmiths were the ones who taught the Navajo their trade. An American named William Spratling saw an opportunity to build on this legacy when, in 1931, he established a retail outlet for Mexican jewelry near the silver-mining center of Taxco.
Spratling’s designs borrowed liberally from pre-Columbian motifs, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that as his shop succeeded and imitators sprang up nearby, his designs themselves appropriated. Some competitors were actively encouraged. In fact, the Taxco School, as it is known today, was formed largely from former Spratling employees such as the Castillo brothers, Héctor Aguilar, and Antonio Pineda. Naturally, these artisans and their shops became incubators for still more generations of silversmiths.
The other great region for fine jewelry is Scandinavia. Copenhagen’s Georg Jensen is probably the best-known practitioner there. Founded in 1904, his firm built upon his fondness for the organic embellishment of Art Nouveau to create stunning pieces that heralded a new tradition of silver craftsmanship. His jewelry featured flowers, bunches of grapes, birds, and other animals. Though he briefly flirted with gold and silvers of varying fineness, in 1933 sterling silver became the rule at Jensen, which gives collectors of his early work an easy way to date a vintage piece...
Jensen was not the only producer of the Scandinavian Modern style. The Hans Hansen silversmithy produced jewelry by the likes of Karl Gustav Hansen, Bent Gabrielsen, and Anni and Bent Knudsen. N.E. From specialized in organic-geometric pieces, while Jørgen Jensen (no relation to Georg) staked his reputation on pewter.
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SEEN in the Studio: Shirin NeshatVulture, December 17th
I'm particularly interested in tribal jewelry. Things that are handmade by people and somehow are very ancient. To me they're a work of art. I find them fascinating, how they speak to you about their history, and they're also really beautiful. I'm also...Read more
Cloth Caribbean pop-up market offers unique itemsTrinidad Guardian, December 12th
Or if you prefer understated ethnic jewelry, then Akilah Jaramogi will be there with her designs. There is also something for the art lovers as visual artist Brianna Mc Carthy would be there ready to sell you some of her best and latest work. Natural...Read more
Impressions: Rind makes a grand come backThe Express Tribune, December 11th
The women in the paintings are adorned elegantly with ethnic jewelry in distinctive styles. “Rind's work carries a strong cultural influence of his area, as his paintings are deeply influenced by the regional aesthetics, splendour, colour and motifs...Read more
Okolo.Rocks, Ethnic Fashion Accessories with Integrity, LaunchesTicker Report, December 9th
When the site launches December 4th 2014, the primary product categories will be real 100% pashmina cashmere silk scarves, along with modern ethnic jewelry. TNI CEO and Chairman, Robert Ancill and Victoria Okolo have travelled to India and other ...Read more
The Grand Bazaar: Your holiday shopping destinationDaily Sabah, December 5th
Tesbihçi Cemil ve Kadir Karateke has an incredible selection of tesbih prayer beads, Nick's Calligraphy Corner specializes in hand painted and calligraphy works of art on dried leaves and Bagus has a wide selection of affordable ethnic jewelry imported...Read more
When Jewels charmed city youthNagpur Today, December 4th
This was a variation from the usual gold jewellery on display presented by Asha Kamal Mali, claimed the Coordinator of the event Sudhish Kumar. Sudhish went on to claim that the jewels on display were rich yet very much affordable. One of the ethnic...Read more
Grauer School senior honored as National Merit Commended StudentU-T San Diego, November 28th
Grauer School senior honored as National Merit Commended Student. 6 a.m.Nov. 28, 2014. ?. Print. ????. Comments 0. A Hadza woman teaches Natalie Brooks (right) a technique for beading tribal jewelry while Brooks was on a Grauer School Expedition to ...Read more
Shopping event on Dec. 7 to benefit Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic ...Wicked Local Lincoln, November 19th
7 to benefit the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable. Located at 410 Boston Post Road in Sudbury, Mango Tree Artisans showcases a wide variety of unique items including handcrafted sterling silver and ethnic jewelry, ceramics, baskets ...Read more