Hopi Indian Jewelry | What Makes it Unique?
The Hopi Indians, known as the “Peaceful Ones,” have made the American Southwest their home for hundreds of years. They’ve made their mark with beautiful, high-quality art that illustrates their rich history and livelihood. Hopi Indian jewelry is one of many cherished art forms embraced at Southwest Silver Gallery, and has been adorned by artists and jewelry enthusiasts who admire its intricate style. Learn why their jewelry has reached beyond Southwestern borders and is admired as one of the most beautiful, distinctive collections of art of the Southwest.
Beauty & Spirituality
The Hopi are a creative and spiritual people and use symbols such as bear paws, feathers, and eagles to provide spiritual protection and encouragement. In fact, a Hopi legend states that the lizard who travels between above and the below excretes turquoise, and the Hopi miners would carry turquoise with them because it gave them strength. They also believe that turquoise holds back floods.
Overall, many of these symbols and gemstones that are incorporated into Hopi Indian jewelry tell a fascinating story about their culture and spiritual identity.
Bears: Physical strength, leadership
Bear paw: Inner strength
Feathers: Prayers, creativity
Eagle: Carrier of prayers
Dream catcher: Catches bad dreams
Arrowhead: Symbolizes adventure
Coral: Known to be soothing and protective
Ruby: Believed to speed up the healing process and help in psychic development
Lapis: Regarded as a stone that brings wisdom and fortitude and also helps psychic ability
Opal: Believed to release self-consciousness
Onyx: Considered a calming stone that gets rid of negative energy
Malachite: Known to repel danger and illness as well as stabilize emotions
Tiger’s Eye: Believed to provide courage and protection
Pearls: Considered stabilizing, this stone is believed to contain purity and integrity
Rhodochrosite: Believed to strengthen self-identity and heal emotional trauma
Most of the turquoise jewelry created by Hopis were most likely in the Arizona and New Mexico region. Turquoise in this area comes from mines such as the Kingman, Sleeping Beauty, Bisbee, Blue Gem, Blue Ridge Crow Springs, Royston, and Dry Creek. Some turquoise from Cripple Creek and Carico Lake are also incorporated into Hopi Indian jewelry.
Since turquoise is highly valued in Native American culture, the Hopi tribe members use a variety of turquoise patterns that gave each piece of jewelry its own distinct style.
This pattern consists of small turquoise nuggets surrounded by a darker blue or brown matrix that resembles a bird’s eye. This kind of turquoise can be found in the Kingman mine, and is usually displayed in large chunks to show off the beautiful, intricate pattern of the stone.
Boulder Turquoise or Ribbon Turquoise
This pattern is formed when the veins of the main rock in which the turquoise lives, the mother rock, is cut through to add pieces of turquoise within the veins, appearing as an accent and ultimately highlighting the mother rock. Our collection of jewelry from the Royston boulder is a great example of this turquoise.
Spider Web Turquoise
This turquoise variety is named after the delicate threads of the spider’s web. The turquoise is cut into small pieces and cemented together within the mother rock, which has a darker blue matrix. Pilot Mountain is famous for this kind of turquoise, with veins of red, brown, and black surrounding the beautifully creamy blue.
Sea Foam Turquoise
This pattern appears to have a foam-looking, rocky nugget shape that is usually polished. Unlike the other patterns, jewelry makers do not cut the stone unless it needs to be flattened so it can be set in jewelry. This kind of turquoise can also be found in the Kingman mine.
Many Hopi men became silversmiths alongside their neighboring tribes, and began creating necklaces and bracelets that later started to resemble their work. But that changed in the early to mid 1900s when Hopi artists were introduced to silver overlay. This style involves soldering layers of silver with a design cutout and tarnishing it to create a single piece of silver. This gave the Hopi tribe a signature artistic style that distinguished their jewelry from other tribes’ work. Distinct patterns in Hopi Indian jewelry are illustrated in Southwest Silver Gallery’s collection of silver bracelets.
Later, silversmiths began to add turquoise and other stones to overlay jewelry, which is common in Hopi Indian jewelry today. Artists such as Paul Saufkie (1898–1993) incorporated designs from pottery, baskets and other materials into his jewelry. Improving upon the overlay technique, silver overlay master Victor Coochwytewa increased the contrast on the design pattern.
Mosaic Inlay is another popular style commonly found in Hopi Indian jewelry in which each stone is placed directly against or next to a contrasting stone. Designs were inspired by the late Hopi Indian Charles Loloma who inlaid mosaic gems in a gold bracelet in the 1970s. His “channeling” technique, which stems from splitting a stone, piecing it back together, and adding stones around it, also gave Hopi Indian jewelry a style distinguishable from other Southwestern tribes. Our collection of inlay pendants put this gorgeous technique on display.
The beautiful, intricate designs in Hopi Indian jewelry show the tribe’s strong cultural and spiritual connections that have greatly influenced history, fashion, and design. Southwest Silver Gallery supports Native American works and embraces high-quality, authentic Hopi art. Browse our collection of Hopi Indian jewelry today.