Southwest Traditions:
Turquoise Gleams on Navajo Jewelry

Because of its power in Navajo culture, turquoise decorates many kinds of personal objects. Beyond necklaces and bracelets, turquoise gleams from belts, buttons, collar ornaments, and hairpins—wherever it could be applied.

Men wear the stone on bolo ties, watch bands, ketohs, rings, and more. The concha belt borrows Spanish silverwork design but was transformed into a uniquely Southwestern object and one that alludes to water—after all, concha means “shell” in Spanish.

Unidentified Navajo women at Laguna Pueblo, photograph probably taken between 1928 and 1941. T. Harmon Parkhurst, courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA) Neg. No. 003225. Origin/Artist: Photograph by T. Harmon Parkhurst