Sterling Silver Coral Pin
Sterling Silver Coral Pin handmade by Geneva Ramone. This fabulous pin features ox blood coral from the Mediterranean set in sterling silver. The pin is 1 3/4″ inch long by 2 1/4″ inch wide.
History of Coral
Red coral (Corallium Rubrum) comes from certain areas, such as the Mediterranean, where the specific water temperature and conditions allow coral to thrive. Coral is a hardened tube or branch. Only about 10% of coral is considered jewelry quality. Although coral has been used by Stone Age peoples as long as 30,000 years ago to decorate sepulchers (burial vaults), Native American artists have only used coral for the last 600 years.
When Europeans arrived in the New World, they brought with them “blood coral” from the waters of Spain and Italy.
Santo Domingo peoples first used coral in necklaces, as wampum (trade beads). The Hopi and Zuni strung coral beads alternating with other beads such as jet, turquoise and spiny oyster for dances and ceremonies.
Geneva Ramone, a Navajo silversmith, was born in Crownpoint, New Mexico in 1958. She grew up on the Navajo Reservation. She began learning the art of silversmithing from her uncle, Tom Dick Ramone, at the age of fifteen. Tom Dick Ramone’s method of silversmithing was very sacred to him. He and his fellow silversmiths worked in a secluded secret place on the reservation. It was off limits to all of the children. Geneva was interested in the art and asked her uncle to teach it to her. He began showing her how he made conchas, bracelets, rings, etc. by melting scrap silver, pounding it flat and then stamping it with his self-made stamps. As Geneva learned the art she began using fabricated silver sheets and wires but continued using some of her uncles’ stamps and learned how to make her own. She has worked as a silversmith full time since 1978. She is very versatile in her silversmithing abilities; but, her specialty is still stamp work. She is able to make beautiful stamped designs with the many stamps that she has collected and made over the years
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.