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Zunis, who are located just outside Gallup, create inlay jewelry set in sterling silver. Zuni inlay is a relatively new art. The Zunis had long carried bits of shells and locally mined turquoise, which they believe offer healing and protective powers. They had also created repetitive patterns and symbols from cut and polished stones and shells, which were pasted onto wooden or shell backings. When their neighbors, the Navajos, shared their silversmithing skills in the 1880’s, the Zunis combined the two crafts into one....
They replaced their traditional backings with silver. Now by inlaying stones and shells in silver necklaces, rings, or bracelets, they could actually wear their charms. Women Zuni rings also make a wonderful gift.
Today, Zunis create a variety of inlay styles such as cluster, needlepoint, channel silver work and mosaic work. Zunis believe that animate and inanimate objects alike have spirits. Their mosaics, like some of their channel work, often depict traditional animals or objects. Creatures indigenous to the Southwestern desert, like roadrunners, geckos, snakes, turtles, bears and dragonflies routinely adorn their rings. And owls, which the Zuni believe are spirits of the departed, are also popular motifs along with Knife Wing, Rainbow Man and the Thunderbird.
With their rich history and protective and healing powers, women Zuni rings make for wonderful gifts. Check them out at silvercity925.com .