Over the last ten years, Guam has seen a renewed interest in the handcrafting of traditional Chamorro jewelry. The dedication of several longtime local jewelry artists, as well as apprenticeships for newcomers to the trade, ensure that this important aspect of Chamorro culture endures.
This wearable art form is characterized by the widespread use of local natural materials such as clamshell, bone, spiky Spondylus shells from the peach- and rose-colored mollusks of the same name, and wood from the ifil tree indigenous to Guam. In the pre-contact era, tortoiseshell was also commonly used.
Guam's jewelry artists, some of whom have decades of experience, often imbue their work with graceful shapes celebrating traditional subsistence practices or Chamorro architecture. Fish hooks and latte stones are just a few of the forms that can be seen decorating the wearers of this eye-catching artwork. If clients are inspired to commission them, some artisans may also craft custom pieces.
Also unique to Guam is a style of gold and silver jewelry bearing images of bamboo or rose blossoms. These pieces are commonly regarded as status symbols, much in the way that traditional jewelry once was.
The wearing of traditional Chamorro jewelry today is a sign of respect for the culture. Historically, it was used in marriages and other religious ceremonies and as a signifier of rank.
In distinct styles for men and women, Guam's jewelry art represents a unique form of body adornment. Its fidelity to the island landscape will captivate your attention with a beauty rivaling nature itself.
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