Coral became a popular material for Native artists to work with hundreds of years ago when European Traders began to bring it to the Southwest as a trade item. Early on, the small pieces of coral were drilled and strung on necklaces made of drilled shell beads and, usually, pieces of turquoise.


When Southwestern Indian Jewelry hit a fever pitch in popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, coral became more common in sterling and gold jewelry. Good quality, dark red coral was attractive in contemporary and traditional Indian jewelry.

The Zuni artists loved using it for inlay work as the red stood out against the shell, turquoise, and jet, usually incorporated into a design.

Several Zuni and Navajo silversmiths set the coral by itself or with turquoise. Quality coral, like quality turquoise, has always been expensive, so it was generally the better silversmiths who used the deep red material from the Mediterranean.

Jeanette Dale is a turquoise addict who prowls for great stones. When she finds a coral stash, she starts shaking and getting excited. It doesn't happen often, but when she sees this gorgeous dark red material, you know something great is coming out!

Coral is not a stone but rather the hard outer skeleton of certain marine coelenterates that secrete a substance that creates coral reefs.

So, she finds an excellent selection of coral on one of her stone-hunting adventures, and, as she said, "I got to thinking that having a nice piece of turquoise would balance this design out."  As it turns out, she had a beautiful piece of Persian Turquoise. Persia (where Iran now sits) was known as one of the great sources of turquoise long before anyone in America even thought about turquoise mines. Tiffany's in New York sourced its turquoise from the middle east.

Jeanette had the material and the vision of what she would do, and she created a masterpiece of a necklace with a handmade chain and matching earrings.

This necklace is an excellent piece of jewelry with the best materials crafted by one of the Navajo Nation's finest silversmiths!

See all Jewelry by Jeanette Dale in the Gallery