I've always wanted a traditional Jacla necklace and asked Karleen Goodluck to make one for me. We decided to list them on the site as a custom build. Finding hand cut American Heishi is challenging and these may take 6 weeks to build, but are well worth the wait!
A traditional Pueblo jewelry adornment, a jacla is two loops of heishi that were originally earrings and sometimes fastened to the bottom of a stone necklace as a pendant-like attachment.
Jacla is Navajo for “ear string”. Although jaclas are attributed to the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians, they were traded with other tribes so have become associated with the Navajo as well. They are seen in vintage photos being worn by members of all southwest tribes, both men and women.
In the oldest style necklaces, the jacla is a pair of loop earrings tied onto the necklace.
The two loops would be removed from the necklace and used as earrings. This is how the jacla originated.
I can just picture a pre-European-contact Rio Grande Puebloan taking his or her jewelry off and storing it that way. And sometimes when I not wanting to wear earrings, just leaving the jacla on the necklace as a pendant.
The jacla might match the necklace it is attached to or be of contrasting heishi. Most jaclas have tabular pieces in the bottom center that are called “corn”. They are most often made from white or orange (spiny oyster) shell or coral. According to Mark Bahti, author of Collecting Southwestern Native American jewelery, jaclas with spiny oyster shell corn are rarely seen and highly prized by many Indians.