One of the most common shapes used in Native American jewelry is the Navajo squash blossom necklace. It has a history going back several centuries, but it is one that can actually be traced to Europe and Africa first. Still, the elegance of this simple design and the promise found within the symbol itself has only helped to fuel interest in this necklace style. It is no wonder that this necklace has held the interest of more than one culture.
This Navajo necklace and design are not originally native to the western hemisphere. It can be traced back to the Moors who lived originally in North Africa and the Middle East before they conquered Spain, which they occupied for centuries. During this time the shape that came to be known as the squash blossom necklace was adopted into Spaniard culture and remained there even after the expulsion of the Moors in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Spaniards quickly took control over great swaths of territory after Columbus sailed to the Americas in 1492 and they brought with them the squash blossom design. They wore it in styles similar to today’s Navajo squash blossom necklace as a sign of good fortune and a symbol to bring them victory over their enemies.
Once there, they began to use metallurgy and to teach it to natives in the Americas which led to the Navajo being able to create Navajo squash blossom necklaces through their own silversmithing techniques starting in the 1600s. Just as it was a sign of good fortune, health, and happiness to the Moors and Spaniards, so has the Navajo version of the necklace become a part of the their culture.
The 19th century saw a rise in Navajo metal smiths taking advantage of the skills to create jewelry like this necklace to sell to tourists and outsiders. This necklace became a popular work of art and is now considered collectible. Modern Navajo squash blossom jewelry uses a variety of materials including turquoise, seashells, glass, silver and other types of gemstones. As these necklaces become more popular, more and more expensive materials are being used like gold and diamonds.
Squash blossom necklaces and other jewelry designs have helped many families achieve economic independence that wasn’t available before. The Navajo squash blossom necklace has truly shown its worth as a symbol of good fortune. It is not surprising that even today the Navajo squash blossom necklace is a hot seller.