“Facts can obscure the truth.”
Native Americans from southeastern Alaska and the Bering Sea region have always believed that everything in nature is not only physical, but also has a powerful spirit. Many archeological sites show that, as early as 10,000 years ago, Paleo Native Americans were wearing earrings made from natural materials such as walrus and mammoth ivory, found pebbles, abalone, shells, etc. These earrings were probably thought to possess special powers of protection associated with the spirit of the piece.
The Tlingits, especially, began to design and wear jewelry made with abalone shell (transported all the way from the California coast because the abalone available in their coastal waters was too thin to be used for durable jewelry), freshwater pearls, mammoth and walrus ivory beads, as well as glass trade beads after 1740. (Note that the shimmer seen in abalone shell, pearls and in the fringes of weavings is considered a manifestation of the spiritual power of the garment or adornment.)
These Tlingit earrings are our contemporary interpretation of a pair of Tlingit abalone earrings found in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Vancouver.
Fabricated from the same natural materials – an oval of shimmering abalone shell, fully bezelled and backed with Sterling Silver, dark, 25,000 year old Fossil Mammoth Ivory beads, and white freshwater pearls. Sterling Silver posts. 1 ˝ inch high, 3/8 inch wide.