Beads, made of durable materials, survive in the archaeological record appearing with the very advent of modern man, Homo sapiens.
Modern beadwork is often used as a creative hobby to create jewelry, handbags, coasters, plus dozens of other crafts, and even copies of paintings.
When Spanish travelers first came into regular contact with Native Americans hundreds of years ago, they shared their silversmithing knowledge with the Navajo Native American Indian Tribe.
After the Navajo introduced turquoise gemstones into their designs, they began to incorporate coral and various other types of semi-precious gemstones around the turn of the 20th century.
Originally, Navajo jewelry was made only for other fellow tribesmen and neighboring tribes, but as more and more traders passed through the American Southwest by railway, the demand for fine Navajo jewelry caused an international commercial uprise.
Beads are available in many different designs, sizes, colors, shapes, and materials, allowing much variation among bead artisans and projects.
Simple projects can be created in less than an hour by novice beaders, while complex beadwork may take weeks of meticulous work with specialized tools and equipment.
The Navajo tribe of Southwestern America has long been famous for their jewelry and crafting techniques.
In fact, the Navajo tribe is credited with teaching jewelry-making techniques to the many other indigenous groups of Southwestern America.However, one of the most highly sought-after Navajo designs was a crescent-shaped pendant design known as 'najas'.Najas pendants were cast from hammered silver, usually stamped or chiseled with decorative tribal patterns and set with colorful gemstones.The concept of the crescent pendant has been seen in artifacts stemming from various other cultures as well, including Roman, Greek and Spanish.Najas pendants were commonly used as centerpieces for 'squash blossom necklaces', a Spanish inspired necklace design.The Navajo had become so skilled in the art of metalworking that they even were known to supply other tribes with 'blank' settings for their own lapidaries to set stones into.