An inlay refers to the process of cutting and polishing turquoise, shell, and other traditional stones before combining them into patterns and embedding them with metal. Southwestern Native American artists are especially recognized for their skills in inlay jewelry. There are several different techniques used in inlay design:
A "mosaic" inlay is when the stones are laid in the metal touching one another and are flush with the surface of the jewelry.
"Cobblestone" refers to the stones being uneven in height and size with beveled edges - closely resembling a cobblestone street.
Commonly seen, "channel" inlay indicates the use of metal spacers between the stone.
"Corn Row" inlay closely mimics the appearance of this harvested crop - neatly arranged parallel rows of stone with slightly rounded edges.
Southwest jewelry styles are often popping with color. Spiny Oyster shell is often inlaid or used as cabochons and the color combination of Spiny Oyster and turquoise is as old as the human love for adornment. Coming all the way from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, Spiny Oyster shell is most commonly seen in orange, red and purple. The more strident the color, the more expensive the shell is. Red and purple shells are found at a much greater depth than the brilliant oranges and are rare and more expensive. Spiny Oyster beads of good color are much coveted and can be worn with all of your turquoise and silver pieces.
Authentic Handmade Native American Jewlery