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How to Make Cherokee Jewelry

Bead Pendant and Earrings with Corn Bead Necklace
Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh

Cherokee Indian jewelry can be traced back thousands of years and has been traditionally created from a variety of natural materials including gold, precious and semiprecious stones, nuts and carved beads. But perhaps the most well known of Cherokee jewelry has its roots in the 1830s relocation of the tribe to Oklahoma, a journey known as the Trail of Tears. During the long walk from the Southeast to the new Indian territory in the West, it was said that the Cherokee women saw teardrops hanging from corn. They collected it and created jewelry to remember the tears shed on the way. Corn beads, or Job's Tears, are not actually corn but a type of Asian grain. The seed pods that grow on the ends of the stalks are well suited as ready-made beads for jewelry.

Bead Pendant and Earrings with Corn Bead Necklace
Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh

Things You'll Need:

  • Straight Pin
  • Corn Beads
  • Glass Seed Beads
  • Two-Part Clasp
  • Pendant (Optional)
  • Beading Thread
  • Glass Tube Beads
  • Beading Needle
  • Super Glue
Corn Beads

Prepare the corn beads by sticking a straight pin through the center of each one. Although there are holes at either end of the bead, there is a pithy center that needs to be pierced.

Thread the beading needle with the beading thread. Measure out about 1/3 more than you will need for the finished product.

At the other end of the thread, attach one part of the clasp and tie a knot to hold it.

Run the needle through the beads alternating the corn beads, seed beads and tube beads.

If you are using a pendant, attach it at the center point. Continue threading the beads until you reach the desired length.

Attach the other end of the clasp. Apply a drop of Super Glue on the knots at each end so they don't unravel. After the glue dries, trim the excess thread.


You can use a variety of beads for this necklace to change the look.

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