How To Make Cherokee Jewelry

Introduction to Cherokee Jewelry

History of Cherokee Jewelry:
Cherokee jewelry-making dates back to ancient times, and has evolved along with the tribe’s culture, values, and lifestyles. Native Americans have been crafting jewelry for a variety of purposes for centuries, from trade items and tribal symbols to adornment and reverence for animals. The symbols and materials used in Cherokee jewelry often contain spiritual meanings like healing or protection.

Cultural Significance:
Cherokee jewelry carries with it much cultural significance as tribe members use items of clothing to represent their heritage, identity, and status. It’s not only a major source of pride but also represents resilience, ancestry and spirit. The designs tell stories about their history, depict intricate details such as feathers or claws that carry special significance to the tribe’s members. Jewelry is also an important way that members pass on history—instructing new generations on how to properly care for things that are believed to be sacred or valuable.

Place In Modern Fashion:
As modern fashion trends continue to draw influence from traditional styles around the world, Cherokee jewelry has become increasingly popular over recent years. From bold bracelets and bangles with intricate feather patterns to delicate pendants featuring animal totems or symbols from Cherokee legend—these pieces are becoming ubiquitous in a variety of styles. Additionally, many retailers have begun offering replica versions of classic designs made with synthetic or plastic materials so customers can enjoy them at an affordable price point.

Gathering Supplies

Gathering Supplies for making Cherokee Jewelry can be a daunting task if you’re not familiar with materials and tools needed. To begin, you’ll need some basic supplies – such as copper wire, beads in different sizes and colors, crimping beads, round nose pliers and a pair of flat pliers. You can find these supplies at craft stores or online. When shopping for quality items make sure to purchase either sterling silver or gold-filled wires that are coated with scratch-resistant coating. Beads come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors so have fun choosing beads which represent your design style. Lastly, getting crimping beads is the most important part in ensuring the jewelry stays together; make sure the ones you select are smooth for a nice tight fit when crimping the jewelry together. All these items should cost no more than $50 USD depending on where you purchase from.

Creating the Jewelry

Creating Cherokee jewelry can be a rewarding and exciting process. Here is a simple, step-by-step guide on how to make traditional Cherokee jewelry:

Materials needed:
• Beads – Turquoise beads are an iconic choice in Cherokee jewelry, but there are many other bead types that may be used as well. Choose from semi-precious stones, glass beads, or other colorful shapes and sizes of your preference.
• Wire – Jewelry wire made of copper, silver or gold should be strong enough for use with gemstones, larger beads and crystal strands.
• Pliers/Scissors – Pliers should have 2 faces (round and flat) for working with wire; try to find one set that includes both straight and bent tips for getting into tight parts. Scissors will also come in handy for cutting strings.

Harold Jaffe Jewelry

Making the Jewelry:
1. Determine the design you would like: explore shapes such as circles, stars and arrows that have sacred meaning behind them in traditional Cherokee culture.
2. Cut the wires to fit your design onto your preferred length of cord or stringing material using pliers or scissors – remember to leave extra space at each end of the piece!
3. Secure the wires by wrapping them around each end of your cord using pliers/scissors so they don’t slip off during wear.
4. Slide on your chosen beads one at a time in the desired pattern; make sure they fit securely without blocking too much space between the adjacent beads before moving onto step 5!
5. Use pliers or fingers (depending on size) to curl end pieces back around toward center of string so no open ends are left exposed – this will help prevent loose beads from escaping over time!
6. Finish off by attaching an appropriate clasp (lobster claw clasps are known for their strength and durability) onto one side of the jewelry piece, then attach it on either side after you’ve tried it out!

Safety Tips & Warnings:
• Be sure to practice proper safety techniques when handling sharp objects such as wire cutters and pliers to avoid any potential injury!

• When dealing with glass beads, wrap them carefully in tissue paper before sliding them onto wires – this helps prevent breakage if they slip through fingers while stringing them together!

Finishing Touches

One popular way to finish and customize Cherokee jewelry is to add stone or bead accents. These can be added to earrings, necklaces, or other pieces for a unique look. Gemstones like turquoise, coral, and quartz are often used in traditional Cherokee jewelry designs. Alternatively, beads such as seed beads, pearlized beads, Swarovski crystals and vintage glass beads can also be used to add texture and interest. Combined with the leather or other materials used for the base of the jewelry piece, these stone and bead accents make for an interesting and attractive jewelry design that is sure to turn heads.

Caring for Cherokee Jewelry

Storing and displaying Cherokee jewelry is an important part of its care. It should be kept away from direct sunlight and in a dry, clean location to ensure it retains its beauty. Consider displaying the pieces on a velvet or padded surface and prevent items coming into contact with any metals or abrasive materials to avoid scratching or tarnishing. These pieces could also benefit from being stored in individual breathable bags or acid-free boxes when not being worn, so long as these are lined with soft material to prevent further damage, such as scratches or dents.

How To Take Care Of Your Jewelry

Cleaning your Cherokee jewelry is also important for keeping them looking new. Wipe off any dust with a damp cloth before gently cleaning it with a solution of warm water and non-abrasive soap. Avoid using chemical cleaners, metal polishes, or abrasive tools like steel wool as these can scratch and discolor the metal. If you are unsure about cleaning a piece of jewelry that has been partially coated, take it to an expert for more professional advice.

It is important to keep an eye out for signs of wear on your Cherokee pieces which could indicate potential damage over time and could include things such as fading enamel colors, dulled gems, chips in stones, broken clasps, or weakened chains/wire wrapping. You can have these fixed at a repair shop but there are some repairs you should not attempt yourself because of the risk to the integrity of the piece if done wrong – like soldering any components back together!


In conclusion, Cherokee jewelry is a beautiful form of art and expression that requires skill, patience and dedication. Crafting Cherokee jewelry takes time and practice, but the rewards are worth it. To learn more about the process, make sure to observe existing pieces and follow tutorials. Also consider joining groups or forums where experienced crafters discuss their techniques for making Cherokee jewelry. Invite readers to share their experiences in creating Cherokee jewelry, as well as any additional tips they may have learned! With enough dedication, you can create dazzling pieces that capture the spirit of the Cherokee tradition.

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