At the Indian Pueblo Store, we endeavor to connect you to bold and beautiful art and artists of the Southwest, and also to share information and insights which provide the meaning behind the art. Through our collector’s guide, we hope that you will gain new knowledge and a greater appreciation of these works, including our authentic Native American jewelry.
Jewelry has been made and worn in the Southwest since prehistoric times. For thousands of years Native Southwestern people made mosaic inlay and beads of turquoise, shell, bone, or stone. Metal arrived with the Spanish. Native Americans acquired metal ornaments through trade, but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Navajo and Zuni artisans learned the craft from Mexican blacksmiths and silversmiths. Their early silver jewelry creations were plain, with simple engraved, stamped, or punched designs. Turquoise was first used in silver around 1880.
By the turn of the 20th century, silversmithing was widespread across the Southwest, and Native artists were making more sophisticated pieces like concho belts, and squash blossom and naja necklaces. The Navajo soon became known for their use of silver, emphasizing silver-heavy designs with only a few gemstones, while the Zuni focused on stonework, featuring finely cut clusters of gems in complex patterns. The Hopi and Pueblo tribes also developed distinctive jewelry styles in the early 1900s.
Today, silver jewelry is an iconic image of the Southwest.
An Iconic Native American Jewelry Piece
The squash blossom necklace is a bold statement piece that represents a storied legacy of jewelry-making by Native Americans of the Southwest.
Origins and Meaning
The central inverted crescent, called a naja, was an ornament that the Spanish used on horse bridles which may have its origins in Moorish designs. Fluted blossoms were another silver ornament used by Spanish and Mexican people to embellish their clothing. Possibly derived from European pomegranate flowers, this decorative shape was called a squash blossom by Navajo silversmiths. Silver beads were introduced to North Americans by Europeans, and by the 19th century these beads had long been prized by the Navajo and other Southwestern Native cultures.
When Navajo artisans first learned the craft of silversmithing in the 1850s, these beads became a staple of Navajo jewelry. The first squash blossom necklace was created around 1880, blending the three elements of the naja, fluted blossom and silver beading to create the design into a distinctive and enduring form. Today, the squash blossom necklace is an icon of Native American and Southwestern jewelry and one of the most recognized types of jewelry in the world.
Though it is an emblem of Southwestern style, it has been embraced by American fashion designers, making its way into high fashion. From the red carpet to the streets of Santa Fe, the Squash Blossom has become one of the most valuable and collected forms of Southwestern Native American art. Squash blossom necklaces are timeless heirlooms that will be enjoyed for generations. You can view and shop our online collection to see the many variations of this beautiful authentic Native American jewelry that we have available for purchase.
At Indian Pueblo Store, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes, and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase, and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft. Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer.
At a time when many commercially made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 45 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.