The tradition of navajo cluster jewelry

Posted by Sunwest Silver on Jul 7, 2023 2:08:06 PM
For generations Navajo cluster jewelry has stood as a testament to the artistic brilliance of the Navajo people, and an essential cue to the cultural significance of the Navajo artist.


White Buffalo & Red Coral Cluster Cuff by Navajo Silversmith Bea Tom

History & Origins of Navajo turquoise cluster jewelry

Navajo (Diné) turquoise cluster jewelry has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century. Native American artisans from every tribe have unique styles and techniques, similarities and differences that evolve over time. Introduced to silversmithing by the Spanish, Southwestern Native Americans have become amongst the most sophisitcated jewelry artists in the world.

Zuni and Navajo silversmiths have different styles of cluster jewelry, over time, the cluster jewelry created by the Navajo became a recognized style featuring multiple turquoise stones set in random or arranged patterns, featuring vibrant colors and rhythms in form.

Creating Navajo Cluster Jewelry

Silversmithing requires exceptional skill and precision,and Navjo silversmithing techniques are handed down thru families. Each step of creating a piece of cluster jewelry requires years of practice and skill. 

The artists meticulously select and/or shape individual turquoise stones, ensuring they fit seamlessly together. These stones are then set in handmade silver bezels, arranged in clusters resembling flowers, sunbursts, snowflakes or repeating circular rows around a center stone. Cluster jewelry can also be without pattern, where the artist places stones in organic structures that are fit the shape of the item they envision. 

Symbolism and Cultural Significance:

Turquoise is revered as a sacred stone, believed to bring protection, good fortune, and healing energies and the multitude of turquoise stones symbolizes an abundance of blessings and prosperity. Each piece tells a story and carries the spirit of the Navajo people, serving as a connection to their rich cultural heritage.

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Kingman Turquoise Earrings by Navajo Silvesrmith Eula Wylie

The Timeless Appeal and Adaptations:

The allure of Navajo cluster jewelry transcends time, captivating collectors and enthusiasts around the world. The vibrant colors of turquoise, shell and stone, combined with intricate silverwork, create striking, wearable art. While traditional cluster designs remain highly sought after, contemporary adaptations incorporate innovative styles, incorporating modern aesthetics while staying true to the essence of Navajo traditional skills.

Preserving Tradition and Supporting Artisans:

The creation of Navajo Turquoise Cluster jewelry is a labor-intensive process that requires immense skill and dedication. Many Navajo families have passed down their silversmithing techniques through generations, ensuring the preservation of traditional craftsmanship. Supporting Navajo artisans and their creations not only allows us to possess exquisite jewelry but also contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage and the continuation of a living art form.

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The timeless beauty and cultural significance of Navajo Turquoise Cluster jewelry continue to captivate and inspire, allowing us to connect with the rich traditions and artistry of the Navajo people.


Questions? Call us or visit our handmade website for info on turquoise & selections available from our local aritsans. 

324 Lomas Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102




Topics: Featured, Native American Jewelry, Navajo Jewelry, Navajo Cluster Jewelry, sunwesthandmade, southwestartistry

It's All About the Turquoise  

Since 1972, Sunwest Silver has been All About the Turquoise. We are industry’s leading source for turquoise, silver charms & findings, and finished handmade jewelry created by the Southwest’s finest Native artisans. 

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