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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vtg Antique 3" Large Japanese Chinese Carved Coral Flower 33 Grams Brooch PinVtg Antique Chinese Carved Rose Quartz Tourmaline Bead Filigree Pendant Necklace3 Old Early Primitive Navajo Stamped Silver Turquoise Bracelet Tourist Era LotJ Tostrup Norway Modernist Sterling Silver Unique Bump Design Vintage BraceletVtg Art Deco Early Sterling Silver Mexican Turquoise 1.25" Wide Mexico BraceletAntique Austrian Turquoise Enameled 750 Silver Locket W/star Ruby,seed PearlsVictoria Signed Taxco Mexico Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet & Collar Necklace SetVintage Chinese Sterling Silver Filigree Vermeil Malachite BraceletVintage Mexico Sterling Silver Tribal Chunky Bracelet Jewelry Signed Voo 54.2gMagnificent Huge 830 Sterling Antique Solje Brooch/pin-masterpiece-62.4 Grams! Wow! Massive 30 Gram Size 9 Federico Jimenez Coral Sterling RingRare Los Castillo Margot De Taxco Sterling Silver Swan Bracelet No ReserveVintage Estate Alaska Inuit Native Eskimo Hand Carved Bone J Omaik BraceletEarly Taxco Mexico Art Deco Sterling Silver Green Turquoise Floral Bracelet RdrVintage Native American Sand Cast Sterling Silver Turquoise Cuff BraceletRare Old Tourist Era Navajo Stamped Silver Thunderbird Link Bracelet & Ring LotEarly Matl Mexico 925/salas Brooch /turquoise Coral Stones/signedBig Wide Old Pawn Navajo Tourist Era Silver Petrified Wood Thunderbird BraceletVintage Scandinavian Modern Finn Jensen Norway Sterling Silver Enamel Bracelet Vintage Handmade Sterling Silver & Turquoise Navajo Indian BraceletRare Norwegian 925s Sterling Silver Pendant/brooch €Vintage Native American Heavy 88g Sterling Silver Large Turquoise Cuff BraceletSanto Domingo Vintage Multi Stone Thunderbird Bead Necklace Depression EraVtg 80g Rare Pichardo Taxco Mexico Mexican Sterling Silver Clamper Cuff BraceletVtg Mexico Sterling Silver Taxco De Molina Fish & Bones Necklace 168 GramsWide Old Pawn Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise Cuff Bracelet WesternVintage Chinese Sterling Silver Enamel Turquoise Bird Bangle BraceletAntique Old Pawn 1900-20 Navajo Nevada Carico Lake Turquoise *silver* 90%+ CuffVtg 1950's Japanese Sterling Silver Onyx Glass Necklace Bracelet SetVintage Taxco Mexico Fancy Puffy Hinge Sterling Silver 925 Bracelet (75g) 7inVintage Antique Harvy Era Native American Sterling Whirling Log Ring Rwb Sz 8.5Mexico Sterling Silver Geometric/precolombian Puzzle Link Bracelet Taxco 94 GmsVintage Amethyst Huge Mexico Mexican Sterling Silver BraceletRare Norwegian 925s Sterling Silver Necklace M.b. Uni David Andersen NorwayGreat Norwegian 1960`s Necklace David Andersen NorwayVintage Silver Mexico Circle L Sterling Flowers Amethyst Bracelet 66 GramsSilver Horse Pin Pop Chalee Mythical Horse Pin , 1930,s RareVtg Mexico 950 Sterling Silver Onyx Panel Link Necklace & Earrings Taxco 153 GmsVintage Sterling Silver & Enamel Owl Pin Brooch Norway 1.65", 14.88 Grams .925 Vintage Navajo Native American Silver & Turquoise NecklaceDerrick Gordon Navajo Natural Royston Ribbon Turquoise Bracelet Sterling SilverSanto Domingo Vintage Multi Stone Thunderbird Bead Necklace Depression EraVtg 80g Bold Chunky Modernist Taxco Mexico Mexican Sterling Silver BraceletVtg Taxco A. Munoz Eagle No. 3 925 Sterling Silver Amethyst Pin Brooch PendantDerrick Gordon Navajo Natural Pilot Mt Turquoise Ring Sz 11 Sterling Silver MensVtg Mexico Sterling Silver Large 22 Mm Bead Necklace 23 In. Taxco 156 GramsHandmade Signed Vintage Sterling Silver And Turquoise Navajo Indian BraceletFred Harvey Era Ingot Silver Navajo Spoon With Arrow Handle & DesignVtg J.comes Sterling Silver & Sodalite Barrel Necklace Taxco 92 GramsNavajo Vintage Squash Blossom NecklaceLapponia Finland Bjorn Weckstrom Bronze 1969-70 General Motors Pendant NecklaceStunning Vintage Fred Harvey Era Dark Green Turquoise Sterling Silver Necklace.Vintage Sterling Silver And Turquoise Handmade Navajo Indian BraceletWilliam Spratling Sterling Obsidian Starfish Earrings SignedRare Vintage Hector Aguilar 940 Sterling Silver Arrow Bracelet 8 1/2"long 38.9gLarge Old Sterling Silver Turquoise Sand Cast Navajo Naja Squash Blossom PendantMexico Sterling Silver Geometric/precolombian Puzzle Link Necklace Taxco 184 GmsPre-1948 Mexico Sterling Silver Wide Double Curb Link Bracelet 46 GramsAntique 19th C Chinese Finest Lychee White Nephrite Jade Pendant-old Mutton FatDavid-andersen Norway Sterling Silver Blue Guilloche Enamel Double Leaf Bracelet

Recent News: Ethnic Jewelry

Source: Google News

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

Shri Kalraj Mishra, Union Minster for MSME inaugurates KVIC Pavilion
Business Standard, November 14th

A wide range of products includes Cane & Bamboo from North East, Tribal Jewelry, Handy Crafts from Rajasthan, Eco-friendly Handmade Papers and Stationery, Peppier Mashie, Herbal Shampoo, Soap, Hair Conditioner, Face Pack etc are available in the ...Read more

CIRCA Announces The Appointment Of New CEO
PR Newswire (press release), November 3rd

CIRCA's Authorized Purchasing Agent Program extends the company's buying services to an invite-only network of established regional jewelry retailers through buying events and a mail-in program. CIRCA Commerce provides manufacturers, distributors ...Read more

Hayden Panettiere Baby Bump Pics: 'Nashville' Star Halloween Costume Shows ...
Mstarz, November 2nd

whiskers as she posed for a black and white picture that she posted to her Twitter account. In the image, the actress is posing on her couch in full-face paint, some lavish tribal jewelry and a cheetah bikini top that really accentuated her growing...Read more

Stocks With Monthly Dividends 2014: Main Street Capital Corporation
Motley Fool, October 30th

Dividend investors rely on the income that their stocks generate, either to provide ready cash for their living expenses or to free up funds for further investment. Yet one of the most annoying things about most dividend stocks is that they only make...Read more

Fashion Club at Delta College holds jewelry, art and gift fair
Stockton Record, October 29th

STOCKTON — Handmade silverware accessories, sterling silver rings and bracelets, ethnic jewelry, knitted hats, hair accessories and scarves, handcrafted wood creations, hand bags, totes, scented soap and more will be for sale when the Fashion Program ...Read more

Delta fashion programs schedules boutique
Stockton Record, October 27th

The sale, in time for the holidays, will include handmade silverware accessories, sterling silver rings and bracelets, ethnic jewelry, knitted hats, hair accessories and scarves, handcrafted wood creations, Tupperware, cosmetics and skin care products...Read more

Armenia – jewelry centre: exclamation mark to follow this sentence in 2016, October 27th

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 27, ARMENPRESS. Seeking to turn Armenia into a regional jewelry centre, the Armenian Jewellers Association (AJA) holds an international conference in Yerevan with participation of the heads of the major jewelry organizations...Read more