The Evolution of Native American Southwestern Cluster Jewelry: Patterns, Designs, and Gemstones

By Gemexi Team | Turquoise
  • Updated On Aug 4, 2023
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The Evolution of Native American Southwestern Cluster Jewelry: Patterns, Designs, and Gemstones

Native American Southwestern Cluster Jewelry is a distinctive style that has captivated jewelry enthusiasts with its intricate designs and vibrant gemstones. This unique style originated from the Southwest Native American tribes, particularly the Navajo and Zuni, and has evolved over time. In this article, we will explore the evolution of Native American Southwestern Cluster Jewelry, delve into its patterns and designs, and examine the types of gemstones used, including No. 8, Golden Hills, Pink Opal, Kingman, and Royston Turquoise, in creating stunning rings, earrings, pendants, and necklaces.

I. The Origins of Southwestern Cluster Jewelry:

Southwestern Cluster Jewelry originated in the mid-20th century and draws inspiration from both Navajo and Zuni traditions. It is characterized by intricate stone settings, often using a multitude of gemstones arranged in clusters to create elaborate designs. The style showcases the mastery of lapidary work, silversmithing, and stone setting techniques.

II. Cluster Jewelry Patterns and Designs:

  1. Flower Cluster:
One of the most popular patterns in Southwestern Cluster Jewelry is the flower cluster design. This design features multiple gemstones arranged in a circular or oval shape to resemble a blooming flower. The gemstones are often surrounded by intricate silverwork that adds depth and dimension to the design.
  1. Leaf Cluster:
The leaf cluster design mimics the shape and texture of leaves. The gemstones are arranged in a cluster that resembles a leaf or a group of leaves, creating a natural and organic motif. The silverwork surrounding the gemstones is often crafted to resemble delicate leaf veins.
  1. Geometric Cluster:
In the geometric cluster design, gemstones are arranged in precise geometric patterns, such as squares, triangles, or rectangles. This design showcases the skillful precision of the artisans and creates a visually striking pattern that appeals to those with a modern aesthetic.

III. Gemstones Used in Southwestern Cluster Jewelry:

  1. No. 8 Turquoise:
No. 8 Turquoise is a highly prized gemstone known for its beautiful light blue to green color with golden-brown matrix patterns. It is often featured in Southwestern Cluster Jewelry, adding a vibrant pop of color to the intricate designs.
  1. Golden Hills Turquoise:
Golden Hills Turquoise, mined in Kazakhstan, is treasured for its rich golden brown hue with dark matrix patterns. It provides a warm and earthy tone to Southwestern Cluster Jewelry, offering a unique and captivating look.
  1. Pink Opal:
Pink Opal is a delicate and feminine gemstone known for its soft pink color. It is often used in Southwestern Cluster Jewelry to add a touch of elegance and femininity to the designs. Pink Opal is typically featured alongside other gemstones, creating a beautiful contrast and enhancing the overall aesthetic.
  1. Kingman Turquoise:
Kingman Turquoise, mined in Arizona, is a staple in Southwestern Cluster Jewelry. It is prized for its vivid blue color and black matrix patterns. Kingman Turquoise is highly versatile and can be used to create various patterns and designs, making it a popular choice for artisans.
  1. Royston Turquoise:
Royston Turquoise, with its stunning green and brown hues, is known for its intricate matrix patterns. It adds a unique and organic touch to Southwestern Cluster Jewelry, with the matrix patterns complementing the surrounding silverwork and enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.

IV. Southwestern Cluster Jewelry Pieces:

  1. Rings:
Southwestern Cluster Rings are often the centerpiece of this style. They feature intricate clusters of gemstones surrounded by elaborate silverwork. The clusters can take on various patterns, such as flowers, leaves, or geometric shapes, creating bold and eye-catching designs.
  1. Earrings:
Southwestern Cluster Earrings showcase the intricate cluster designs in a more wearable form. They often feature smaller clusters of gemstones, allowing for a balanced and symmetrical look. The earrings can range from dainty and delicate to bold and statement-making, depending on the size and arrangement of the gemstones.
  1. Pendants:
Southwestern Cluster Pendants typically feature a larger cluster of gemstones, serving as a focal point of the design. They are often paired with a decorative bail or intricate silverwork to create a captivating piece of wearable art. The pendants can be worn on a chain or a cord, accentuating the intricate patterns and vibrant gemstones.

  1. Necklaces:
Southwestern Cluster Necklaces incorporate clusters of gemstones throughout the chain or as pendant drops. These necklaces showcase the diversity of the cluster designs and often combine different gemstones to create a visually stunning piece. They can range from delicate chokers to longer statement necklaces, offering versatility and adding a touch of Southwestern charm to any outfit.


Native American Southwestern Cluster Jewelry is a captivating style that has evolved over time, combining intricate patterns, exquisite silverwork, and vibrant gemstones. The use of gemstones such as No. 8 Turquoise, Golden Hills Turquoise, Pink Opal, Kingman Turquoise, and Royston Turquoise adds depth, color, and visual interest to the designs. From rings and earrings to pendants and necklaces, Southwestern Cluster Jewelry continues to enchant jewelry enthusiasts with its artistry and cultural significance. Whether adorned with floral clusters, leaf motifs, or geometric patterns, these jewelry pieces reflect the rich heritage and timeless beauty of Native American craftsmanship.

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