A Turquoise Cuff is Part of Native American History
If you have ever worn a turquoise cuff, or any kind of turquoise jewelry, you know that it is a bright bluish green color, same as that of the sky. Turquoise had been mined by Native Americans for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
Since Turquoise naturally forms near the surface of the ground, Native Americans Probably discovered it on the ground then began digging for it, eventually creating mines. The stones were then incorporated into jewelry for ceremonies with pieces like the turquoise cuff or necklaces.
In jewelry pieces such as the turquoise cuff, up until around the 1850’s no metal was used in the creation of turquoise jewelry. Even in a turquoise cuff, the stone was attached to bone and or natural fibers or hair. The stone was polished with sand or fine clay, and then added to jewelry pieces such as a turquoise cuff, or other body adornment.
A Turquoise Cuff was Made with Beads in the Early Days
A Turquoise cuff was made typically with beads prior to the 1850’s. Using primitive tools such as sand, other stones, or a dried cactus spine, the Native Americans could drill holes in the beads and even make them as small as 1/16 of an inch in diameter. These beads were then strung together along with beads of other stones on jewelry like in a turquoise cuff.
After 1850, the Navajo began trading silver, and incorporating silver into their jewelry. The jewelry, including sometimes a turquoise cuff, was distributed among members of the tribe in which it was made. The Native Americans even incorporated silver after 1850 into a turquoise cuff and other jewelry items which they wore regularly.
The most valued shade of the turquoise stone, even in a turquoise cuff, is a bright bird’s egg blue, this color symbolizes the color of the sky in Native American culture, and contrasts with the brown and green shades of the color of the earth. For this it is significant in almost all Native American mythology and is a sacred stone worn in abundance by the spiritual leaders of the tribe. These leaders wore their jewelry as a turquoise cuff, along with other neck wear, and sometimes had a chest plate made entirely of the stone.
Care of the Turquoise or Turquoise Cuff
In a turquoise cuff, care must be taken to keep from hitting it against harder stones. Turquoise is a brittle and porous stone, which wears easily and absorbs water to change color. It should therefore be well maintained in a dry place and impact of the stone should be minimized. The beads that the Native Americans used in their Jewelry including a turquoise cuff, were easier to craft by the Native Americans, as the nature of the stone lends itself naturally to bead-making.