Cherokee Handmade Jewelry

Cherokee handmade jewelry is a traditional art form that dates back centuries and holds deep cultural significance for the Cherokee people. This article will explore the rich history, intricate techniques, symbolism, and artists behind this beautiful craft. From the materials used to the preservation of its legacy, Cherokee handmade jewelry is a testament to the skill and creativity of the Cherokee artisans.

The tradition of Cherokee jewelry making has been passed down through generations, with each piece telling a unique story and reflecting the values and beliefs of the Cherokee culture. The use of natural materials such as silver, copper, beads, and gemstones in combination with traditional techniques results in stunning pieces that captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the history and tradition of Cherokee jewelry making, the materials and techniques employed by artisans, as well as the symbolism behind their designs. Additionally, we will highlight some famous Cherokee jewelry artists whose work continues to showcase the timeless beauty and craftsmanship of this distinctive art form.

Whether you are an avid collector or someone interested in learning more about Native American artistry, this article aims to provide valuable insights into Cherokee handmade jewelry.

History and Tradition of Cherokee Jewelry Making

The history and tradition of Cherokee jewelry making dates back centuries, with the art form being an integral part of Cherokee culture and identity. The Cherokees are known for their intricate and unique handmade jewelry, which has been passed down through generations. This traditional craft has played a significant role in the cultural heritage of the Cherokee people, with each piece of jewelry carrying its own stories and symbolism.



The art of making Cherokee handmade jewelry has been a sacred tradition, often incorporating natural materials such as shell, stone, copper, and silver. Techniques such as beadwork, silver-smithing, and carving have been used to create stunning pieces that reflect the beauty of nature and the rich history of the Cherokee Nation.

The designs found in Cherokee handmade jewelry often hold great significance, with symbols representing elements of nature, spirituality, and tribal traditions. For example, the use of animal motifs like bears or turtles may symbolize strength or longevity in Cherokee culture. Each design is carefully crafted to convey deep meanings that are rooted in Cherokee beliefs and values.

Today, these traditional designs continue to be honored and preserved by modern Cherokee jewelry artists who are dedicated to keeping this ancient tradition alive. Overall, this section will delve into the historical significance of Cherokee handmade jewelry-making and its cultural importance within the Cherokee community.

  • The art form’s significance in preserving cultural heritage
  • The connection between craftsmanship and tribal identity
  • The spiritual and symbolic meanings behind traditional designs

Materials and Techniques Used in Cherokee Handmade Jewelry

Cherokee handmade jewelry is a true representation of the rich cultural heritage and artistic traditions of the Cherokee people. The materials and techniques used in crafting Cherokee jewelry have been passed down through generations, resulting in beautiful and unique pieces that hold deep meaning and significance.

One of the most commonly used materials in Cherokee handmade jewelry is silver. Silver has been an integral part of Cherokee culture for centuries, and it is often used to create stunning earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings. The intricate designs and patterns found in Cherokee silver jewelry are a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of the artists.

In addition to silver, Cherokee artisans also utilize natural gemstones such as turquoise, coral, and shell in their creations. These stones are carefully sourced and incorporated into the jewelry using traditional methods that have been perfected over time. The use of these natural elements not only adds beauty to the pieces but also carries symbolic importance within Cherokee culture.

Furthermore, the techniques used in Cherokee jewelry making vary from artist to artist, with many incorporating traditional methods such as hand-stamping, hammering, and beadwork. Each piece is meticulously crafted by hand, ensuring that every detail is given careful attention. This dedication to craftsmanship results in one-of-a-kind pieces that truly capture the spirit of Cherokee artistry.

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MaterialsTechniques
SilverHand-stamping
TurquoiseHammering
CoralBeadwork

Meaning and Symbolism of Cherokee Jewelry Designs

Cherokee handmade jewelry holds deep meaning and symbolism within its designs, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Cherokee people. Each piece of jewelry is crafted with intention and purpose, often representing important aspects of Cherokee life and beliefs.

Symbolism in Cherokee Jewelry

Many symbols found in Cherokee handmade jewelry hold significant meaning. For example, the double curve motif, commonly seen in Cherokee beadwork and silverwork, represents the joining of two rivers and symbolizes unity and togetherness. The four-pointed star symbolizes the four directions and is a common motif in traditional Cherokee designs. These symbols are not only visually striking but also carry profound spiritual significance for the Cherokee people.

Meaning Behind Jewelry Designs

Beyond the use of symbols, Cherokee handmade jewelry often incorporates natural elements such as feathers, shells, and stones that carry their own meanings. Feathers may represent spirituality or connection to nature, while certain stones like turquoise hold significance in Cherokee culture for their healing properties. The intricate patterns used in beadwork and silverwork also convey stories passed down through generations, connecting wearers to their ancestors and traditions.

Cultural Significance

The tradition of creating meaningful jewelry within Cherokee culture serves as a way to preserve history, stories, and beliefs. Through these carefully crafted pieces, wearers can honor their heritage while sharing the beauty and significance of Cherokee artistry with others. When purchasing or wearing authentic Cherokee handmade jewelry, individuals are not only accessorizing with stunning pieces but also carrying on traditions that have been cherished for centuries.

Famous Cherokee Jewelry Artists and Their Work

Renowned Cherokee Jewelry Artists

The tradition of Cherokee handmade jewelry continues to thrive, partly due to the remarkable talents of contemporary Cherokee jewelry artists. These artists have not only preserved and honored their cultural heritage, but they have also brought new creativity and innovation to the craft. Some renowned Cherokee jewelry artists include Mary Thompson, Kristen Dorsey, and Louie Teha Jr. among others. Their work reflects a deep connection to their roots while also incorporating modern elements.

Unique Styles and Techniques

Each Cherokee jewelry artist has their own unique style and techniques that set their work apart from others. Mary Thompson is known for her intricate beadwork and use of vibrant colors in her designs, while Kristen Dorsey incorporates traditional Cherokee symbols into her metalwork creations. Louie Teha Jr. is famous for his exquisite turquoise pieces that showcase the natural beauty of this gemstone. Their individual styles contribute to the rich tapestry of Cherokee handmade jewelry.

Recognition and Awards



The exceptional craftsmanship and artistic vision of these Cherokee jewelry artists have garnered them widespread recognition and numerous awards. They have been featured in art exhibitions, museums, and galleries across the country, showcasing the significance of Cherokee handmade jewelry in the realm of fine art. Their work has also received accolades for its cultural significance and contribution to preserving the legacy of Cherokee jewelry making.

These talented individuals continue to push boundaries in their creative expression while remaining true to their cultural heritage, ensuring that the tradition of Cherokee handmade jewelry remains vibrant and relevant in today’s world.

Buying Authentic Cherokee Handmade Jewelry

When looking to purchase authentic Cherokee handmade jewelry, it is important to do your research and ensure that you are buying from legitimate sources. Here are some tips on how to buy genuine Cherokee handmade jewelry:

1. Research the Artist: Before making a purchase, take the time to research the artist who created the piece of jewelry. Many Cherokee artists have their own websites or social media pages where they showcase and sell their work. Look for artists who are members of recognized Cherokee artisan organizations or have received awards for their craftsmanship.

2. Purchase from Reputable Sellers: When buying Cherokee handmade jewelry, it is crucial to purchase from reputable sellers who specialize in Native American art. Look for shops or online retailers that specifically highlight their collection of Cherokee jewelry and provide information about the artists they work with.

3. Ask About Certification: Genuine Cherokee handmade jewelry often comes with a certificate of authenticity, which verifies the origins of the piece and the materials used. When purchasing a significant piece of Cherokee jewelry, it is recommended to ask for a certificate of authenticity from the seller.

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By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you are purchasing authentic and high-quality Cherokee handmade jewelry while supporting and appreciating the rich tradition and craftsmanship of Cherokee artisans.

Remember, when seeking out authentic cherokee handmade jewelry look into artists themselves as well as sellers specializing in native american work to ensure quality products.

Care and Maintenance of Cherokee Handmade Jewelry

Cherokee handmade jewelry is not only a beautiful accessory but also a piece of cultural heritage. To ensure that your cherished Cherokee jewelry remains in top condition, proper care and maintenance are crucial.

To clean silver jewelry, a soft cloth can be used to gently polish the pieces as needed. It is important to store silver separately from other jewelry to prevent scratching. For beaded jewelry, it is best to avoid exposing them to water as much as possible, as this can weaken the thread or string holding the beads together. Additionally, it is recommended to store beaded jewelry in a soft pouch or lined box to prevent tangling and damage.

Proper storage of Cherokee handmade jewelry is essential for its preservation. Keeping these pieces in a dry and cool environment is vital in preventing tarnishing and deterioration. It’s also advisable to periodically check the clasps, stones, and overall condition of the jewelry for any signs of wear and tear.

Investing in authentic Cherokee handmade jewelry not only supports indigenous artisans but also preserves their cultural legacy for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

MaterialMaintenance Tip
SilverGentle polishing with a soft cloth; store separately from other jewelry
Beaded JewelryAvoid exposure to water; store in a soft pouch or lined box
General StorageKeep in a dry and cool environment; periodically check for signs of wear and tear

Preserving the Legacy of Cherokee Jewelry Making

In conclusion, the legacy of Cherokee handmade jewelry holds immense significance in preserving the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Cherokee people. The intricate designs, meaningful symbolism, and use of traditional materials in Cherokee jewelry reflect a deep connection to their history and ancestry. It is essential to continue to support and promote the artistry of Cherokee jewelry making in order to honor and preserve this important aspect of their culture.

By appreciating and purchasing authentic Cherokee handmade jewelry, individuals can contribute to the sustainability of this traditional craft and support the talented artists who dedicate themselves to keeping these ancient techniques alive. Moreover, understanding the care and maintenance of these unique pieces ensures that they can be passed down through generations, allowing for the continuation of this timeless tradition.

As we strive to preserve the legacy of Cherokee jewelry making, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the contributions of famous Cherokee jewelry artists whose work has helped to elevate this art form. Through education, appreciation, and support, we can help ensure that the beauty and significance of Cherokee handmade jewelry will endure for years to come, serving as a lasting tribute to their cultural heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Jewelry Did Cherokee Make?

The Cherokee tribe made a variety of jewelry using materials such as shells, beads, copper, and silver. They crafted necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other adornments for both men and women.

What Are Some Crafts That the Cherokee Tribe Made?

In addition to jewelry, the Cherokee tribe also created a wide range of crafts including basket weaving, pottery, beadwork, wood carving, and finger-woven sashes. These crafts were an important part of their cultural identity.

Did the Cherokee Wear Jewelry?

Yes, the Cherokee tribe did wear jewelry as a form of personal adornment. Jewelry was not only decorative but also held symbolic significance within their culture. It was worn during ceremonies and daily life as well.