The Navajo, or Diné, began working silver in the 19th century. Atsidi Sani, or "Old Smith" (c. 1828-1918) who may have been the first Navajo blacksmith and is credited as the first Navajo silversmith, learned to work silver from a Mexican smith as early as 1853.
Early Navajo smiths rocker-engraved, stamped, and filed designs into plain silver, melted from coins, flatware, and ingots obtained from European-American traders. Later, sheet silver and wire acquired from American settlers were also made into jewelry. The punches and stamps used by Mexican leather workers became the first tools used to create these decorations.