Handmade Coral Cluster Ring
Handmade Coral Cluster Ring by Verdy Jake. Navajo artist Verdy Jake captures a perfect balance between precious metal and precious stone. The Coral Ring is a size 8.
Trade Roots Navajo Artist: Verdy Jake
The jewelry created by Navajo silversmith Verdy Jake reflects Southwest jewelry classicism at its best. Verdy was raised in a family of thirteen children. Fortunately her oldest brother became interested in silver work and shared his talents with his younger brothers and sisters. Now residing in Smith Lake, New Mexico, Verdy supports a family of four children with her amazing jewelry skills.
Coral was introduced to Native peoples of the American southwest in the 1400’s by Spanish explorers. It’s instant and enduring popularity is attributed to the vibrant range of color; from red to orange, pink and black. Due to its rarity and association with birth and existence, blood red is by far the most popular color. Verde Jake crafts jewelry reminiscent of that created in the early part of the twentieth century. Using basic tools passed down by her grandfather, Verde skillfully recreates heirloom quality wearable art from sterling silver and precious stones.
The Trade Roots Collection is the creation and vision of Jeffrey Lewis, founder and owner since 1970. Lewis has a personal commitment towards preserving and revitalizing Native American trade and tradition in the Southwest. Trade Roots has grown and flourished from that same commitment. In the early years, Lewis spent much time in the Lacandon Rain Forest, collecting molted Macaw parrot feathers for use in Zuni and Hopi ceremonial costumes. Later, he began traveling the world, securing supplies of exotic shell and stone. Trade Roots was able to consistently bring pearl shell from the South Pacific, coral from the Mediterranean, amber from Chiapas, Mexico and the Baltic Sea, rhodochroscite, lapis lazuli, sugilite, turquoise, variscite, fossil ivory, labradorite, azurite and many other exotic materials all to be used by Native Americans for jewelry-making and fetish carving. Today, Lewis has these same rare and exotic materials handmade into beads. Each creation is unique and has a timeless feeling that always brings joy to the wearer.
History of Native American Jewelry
The History of Native American Jewelry is deeply rooted in the culture of the American Southwest. Certain historical processes have given American Indian jewelry a strong presence in today’s modern style. The use of Turquoise is by far the most influential aspect of ancient Indian jewelry used in modern western fashion. Archeological evidence supports the theory that stones, which include turquoise, shells, and carved fetishes, predate the Christian epoch. Turquoise that was found in Hohokam excavations in southern Arizona has dated back to 200 B.C. Even older in central Mexico, approximately 600-700 B.C., and in South America about 900 B.C.
Native American Jewelry has a unique past. Knowing that story is the key to understanding the Indian jewelry styles of today. Native Americans started making silver jewelry in the late 1800’s when the Spaniards came, making jewelry, ornaments for their horses and trinkets for barter. But the Indian jewelry made before this time provided the foundation for their own style. Although the tribes and their styles vary, some common themes persist. There is significant evidence of beaded Turquoise jewelry. Turquoise and shell, paired with feathers would be strung and hung from every place possible. Yarn, leather, and sinew were woven into patterns and incorporated into necklaces, bracelets and clothing with the stones and shell. Other unique, beautiful items from nature would be included as much as possible. In Arizona this jewelry dates back over 2300 years, during the Hohokam era. Metal was rare but not out of the picture entirely. Some archeologists suggest gold and silver was worked by certain tribes in North America during this ancient time but its use would have been limited. Gold and Silver was worked by the Native peoples of Mexico and Central America since the time of the Aztec, so its possible Native American tribes living in the southwest region could be aware of metal working in some way much earlier than the Spanish arrival. It is even difficult to put a date on just when the Native Americans started making silver jewelry after the Spanish arrival. Some authorities will say the 1870’s some the 1890’s.