Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zuni Petit Point Jewelry--Something to be treasured!

Jewelry is always an essential part of an outfit.  Personally, I prefer to keep things rather minimal and understated.  That's not to say that over the top isn't great too.  But, one of my favorite things to wear has always been Native American jewelry.  Maybe its because I live in the Southwest and its normal here, or maybe its from growing up with all of those Ralph Lauren ads, but I just love it.  (By the way, it was Dee Morris who made most of the jewelry in the Ralph Lauren ads.  He was based out of Sedona, Arizona and made some AMAZING pieces)

One of my favorite styles is Zuni.  The Zuni tribe lives in New Mexico and is a Pueblo tribe.  They are primarily agricultural and have a rich religious and cultural tradition.  They learned silversmithing in about 1870 and many members of the tribe have gone on to be master craftspeople.  The Petit Point style is one that is unique to the Zuni tribe. The pin to the right is a classic example.  The turquoise is Kingman and is completely hand cut.  The stones are bezel-set into the silver and the entire piece is hand-forged and from about 1970.  What makes the style so unique is the settings--they are more or less bezel set, but have tiny prongs around the top that are sometimes decorative and sometimes functional.  To set the stones, the larger ones are held in with matchsticks while the maker sets them, the smaller ones are held in with toothpicks.  The pieces are kind of like a mosiac--lots of little stones, all methodically set next to each other to spell out a larger pattern and with the settings, has a sort of "embroidery" look to it, unlike any other style of jewelry.  Traditionally, petit point jewelry is only for women to wear.

This piece is from Chief Dodge and is Zuni needlework (same as "petit point") with Sleeping Beauty turquoise.  It is a vintage piece.  I love it because it is so detailed and with very fine work, would go perfectly pinned on a black dress with several other pins.  Its not too big, not too loud and is a very classic design.  This piece, like so many others isn't signed, which is unfortunate because now we can never know what person took the time to make something so beautiful.

When it comes to Zuni petit point/needlework there are fakes out there, particularly coming from China.  Be careful what you buy!  Personally, I suggest that you buy from somewhere like Chief Dodge of Scottsdale because they only deal in authentic jewelry, have some of the best prices and have experts on site.  Plus, they're really nice and carry just about every sort of style imaginable.

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