Real vs. Fake Vintage Native American Jewelry

If you love fine vintage Native American jewelry and shop for it online often you have probably noticed by now that there are hundreds of “fake and faux jewelry” sellers using Ebay to hawk their wares.

Asian “knock-offs” have been a problem for American retailers as well as e-tailers like Ebay for decades. Fake, artificially produced ‘faux’ knock-offs of CDs, software, leather goods, cologne, designer tennis shoes, apparel, handbags and hundreds of other retail products coming out of China are now costing American businesses billions of dollars in losses every year.

The growing deluge into the American jewelry retail market of these artificially made, non-authentic fake ‘Native American’ made pieces has confused younger less experienced jewelry customers who don’t know how to recognize the real thing from the artificial counterfeit. It’s a tragedy to see someone pay more than $200 for a cuff or ring which has no silver and no real gemstones in it. If they ever need to resell the item, they quickly find out it’s practically worthless. REAL Native American vintage jewelry will APPRECIATE OVER TIME. This is called INVESTMENT GRADE vintage jewelry and it’s worth the price paid to acquire it.

Compounding the problem of “fake vs. real” Native American made jewelry is the fact that some modern Native American made jewelry is actually “factory sourced” out of North American Indian reservations and manufactured by poor working Indians, so it is definitely “legally” Native American made – but it is quickly and cheaply made on homespun production lines to imitate the grander more refined Fred Harvey era pieces of the past, using ultra thin sheets of cheap silver alloy – or even nickel silver [ a non-silver metal alloy which shines like silver but has absolutely no silver content ] combined with plastic resin artificially made molded [ faux ] turquoise in jewelry designs which are copycats of the very fine authentic jewelry pieces made by Native Americans between the late 1800s and the late 1970s.

Sadly Ebay is loaded with sellers which are selling these North American made knock-off pieces, which they can legally state are “Native American made” but are of such inferior quality that the piece, especially if it’s a cuff, will fall apart in a few years. Buyer beware. If you find a huge cuff which is very very lightweight [ check the gram weight ] and the metal in it shines oddly – almost looking like polished chrome, and if you see the phrases “nickel silver” or “resin turquoise” used to describe the listing, odds are you might be very disappointed with this jewelry item as time goes by. If it’s a cuff or large ring, and it rattles when you shake it, as the plastic gems were just barely placed into their bezels, the piece is not real. Once the composite plastic resin faux gemstones begin to fall out of the piece, or it becomes quickly very misshapen after wearing it for a few weeks, a very large but cheap faux Native made cuff begins to prove the point that “you get what you pay for.”

Truthfully, it’s better to pay a little more for an authentic Native American made item which has been made with pride, generational talent using real gold, silver and gemstones than to waste your money on cheap knock-offs just to save a few bucks. 

What exactly is “Old Pawn?”

A peer in the old pawn jewelry trade has described the phrase “Old Pawn” this way:

As used in the pawn trade, the terms “old” or dead” pawn have absolutely nothing to do with the age or vintage of any particular item. A pawn item goes “dead” or becomes “old” when the person who pawned the item does not pay off their loan on the item in the stated amount of time mandated by state law. At the point the item goes dead it becomes the property of the pawnbroker, who then usually offers it for sale to the public. Native American jewelry can be and is pawned in any and all vintages including brand new for a variety of reasons.”

Others in the vintage jewelry trade have also used the term “old pawn” to describe Native American jewelry made, bought and sold during the mid 20th century period which was the height of fine Native American jewelry making in the American southwest. Some refer to this period [ Early 1900s through late 1970s] as the “Fred Harvey” era.

Who was Fred Harvey and what was the Fred Harvey era?

Here’s some interesting historical background on Fred Harvey: [ See http://www.canyonroadarts.com/links/Fred%20Harvey%20Co.html ]

No organization had a greater impact on the American southwest as the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company. In fact, these companies practically “invented” the image of the southwest that Americans have today. The Fred Harvey Company promoted a “kinder-gentler” image of skilled artisans and colorful, peaceful, Indian cultures, instead of wild Indians, cowboys, and buffalos of the 19th century.The Fred Harvey of Santa Fe Railway pioneered innovative marketing techniques that are still in use today in the travel industry. The Santa Fe could have called their trains the Stockyard Limited or the Wyatt Earp special. However, they chose exotic names from the southwest such as the Super Chief or the El Capitan. These names appeared on advertising posters throughout America with images of Navajo or Hopi Indians working on crafts of the southwest.Few people today realize the impact the Fred Harvey Company had on Indian arts and crafts. Most people are familiar with the Fred Harvey Company’s involvement with food, lodging, and the Harvey Girls. But few are aware of the Fred Harvey Company’s involvement in the “curio” trade and even more astonishing, the impact on museum collections.Minni” Harvey, Fred Harvey’s daughter, and Herman Schweizer, a German immigrant, became one of the largest collectors of American Indian art in the world. Herman Schweizer came to America from Germany on September 12, 1885. He traveled to Chicago where he met relatives and friends, then, on to Los Angeles. For a time, he worked for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later to become the Santa Fe Railroad) as a newsboy. However, Herman’s claim to fame with the Harvey Company came just after he had been appointed in charge of the Coolidge New Mexico eating house on the Santa Fe Railroad. In his spare time, Herman had roamed the Navajo and Hopi reservation in search of trinkets or curios to sell at the Coolidge restaurant. Minni Harvey was aware of the popularity of Herman’s curios at the Coolidge restaurant and encouraged him to expand his curios to other Harvey establishments. With Minni Harvey urging and Ford Harvey’s support, the company took on the Indian Curio Trade and established the Fred Harvey Indian Department in 1901. Even though H. L. Hunkel (Minni Harvey’s husband) was in charge of the Indian Department and lived in Kansas City, Herman Schweizer was the Harvey’s man to get things done when the Indian Department opened their building at the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque in 1902. Herman was the “boss” in the southwest. Schweizer had spent over 16 years in the southwest and had developed an extensive network of personal relationships and business dealings. Furthermore, he had been hiring Navajo and Hopi craftsmen through a trading post in Thoreau, New Mexico to create Indian jewelry for the Harvey Company.

Herman created the Harvey style Indian bracelet. He found that the large turquoise nugget bracelet did not find favor with the Victorian traveler. He had the Indian craftsmen reduce the size of the traditional silver pieces that would appeal more to the traveling tourist and would better fit eastern dress styles.

Herman Schweizer spent most of his time with the Harvey Company developing the Indian Building  in Albuquerque and building networks of the curio trade for the Harvey Company. Perhaps, one could easily say that almost every trader in the southwest was on contract or employed by the Fred Harvey Company at any one time during the history of the company.

Herman did not stop at curios but began buying collections from the various traders to showcase in the Indian Building in Albuquerque. For over five years, Herman engaged in acquiring the finest of the southwest Indian art. The author, Frank Waters, indicated the “F. H. Indian Building at the Santa Fe Station in Albuquerque New Mexico was equal to any modern museum and all transcontinental passenger trains were stopped there for thirty miniutes.”

The early years of the 1900s was a period of great international expositions. Such opportunity was not lost to Herman Schweizer and the Fred Harvey Company at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase World’s Fair in St. Louis, the 1915 fairs at San Francisco and San Diego. The company saw the opportunity to promote travel and showcase Indian crafts of the southwest. Nampeyo, Maria Martinez, Fred Kobotie, Elle of Ganado were just a few of the Indian artists the Fred Harvey Company promoted at the world’s fairs to millions of Americans.

Indian Detour Bus, Santa Clara Pueblo, c. 1926

Although Herman Schweizer was known as the “Fred Harvey anthropologist,” he did not have the credentials of a true anthropologist. To establish legitimacy of the Harvey activities, Schweizer formed a business association with George A. Dorse, curator of Anthropology at the Field Columbian Museum in Chicago. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the Harvey Company purchased and sold major Indian art collections to collectors and Museums in the United States. Almost every major museum East of the Mississippi river acquired at least a few southwest ethnographic items from the Harvey Company.

The post World War II era changed the company drastically. Automobile availability and new transcontinental highways meant the Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad no longer had complete control of travelers to the American southwest. The new highways did not pass by the Fred Harvey restaurants and hotels. Ford Harvey died in 1926, John F. Hunkel in 1936, and Herman Schweizer in 1943. By 1946, the Harvey Company no longer had unlimited funds to purchase private art collections and the great era of collecting ethnographic materials virtually came to an end. However, the company still controlled the vast amount of the items they had collected over their forty years of operations.

Interior Fred Harvey Store, Alvarado Hotel, Albuquerque, NM, c. 1905

Byron Harvey III, born in 1932, was the great-grandson of Fred Harvey, Sr. He attened Harvard and University of Chicago and completed a degree in anthropology at the University of New Mexico in 1960. Byron always had a strong interest in American Indian art and ethnographic materials. He took up the challenge of identifying information on the Fred Harvey collection that had been lost from the time of Herman Schweizer. Furthermore, he helped to shape the future of the Harvey Indian Art Collection begun in 1902. He helped organize the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Foundation in 1969, and gave much of his personal time and support to museums throughout the country. Byron was on the Harvey Foundation board when it donated over 4,000 items to the Heard Museum. Today, a large part of the Harvey collection resides at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

With increased interest in Indian Art and ethnographic material these days, the Harvey Fine Art Collection continues to inspire scholars, collectors, and the general public. Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery is pleased to offer for sale ethnographic material and Indian arts from the great Fred Harvey era.

Fake vs. Real Turquoise: What You Should Know

During the early years of the Fred Harvey period of high art in Native American jewelry design, North American turquoise mines were producing a plethora of high quality turquoise gemstone material. A list of some of these well known mines can be found here:

http://www.silvereaglegallery.com/turquoise-mines-of-america/

Native American jewelry which was made between the 1930s and the late 1970s tends overall to have turquoise gemstones in it which are far superior to much of what is being mined today. That’s because the period between the late 1920s and the late 1970s predates the great incoming wave of fake Native American jewelry and fake gemstones from Asia. The modern popular demand for high quality “Fred Harvey” era authentic Native American made jewelry has brought about a large influx of artificially manufactured fake jewelry, much of it from China which is making it difficult at times for sellers of authentic pieces to differentiate themselves and their trade from a tsunami of cheap factory made fakes.

If you really prefer to invest your money in authentic vintage Native American jewelry, then expect to pay a little bit more for what you buy and choose jewelry which does not contain “composite plastic resin” artificial turquoise and / or cheap imitation chrome-like metal alloys that only imitate sterling silver. Nickel silver has no silver content.

Plastic Resin turquoise is fake gemstone material which is completely artificial. It’s also referred to as “faux” turquoise. It’s found in fake Native American jewelry and much of it is manufactured out of Asia, specifically China.

COMPOSITE or “Block” turquoise is made by taking the cutaway leftovers of the natural turquoise cutting process, small bits, pieces & powder, refuse – then grinding, mixing and re-heating these gem cutting table leftovers with epoxy glue at high temperatures. The resulting cooked gem material is uniform in color and can be cut and polished to any shape just as natural stones.There are some nice jewelry pieces being made with “block” gem material, but it holds far less collector value than the authentic hand mined turquoise gem material.

The current popular trade in composite turquoise Native American sterling silver jewelry is not meant to be deceptive or misleading. One large aspect of the trade is the fact that stones of uniform color have always been preferred by the majority of Navajo and Zuni women and girls, a little known fact. There are other economic factors as well. There is a large, legitimate trade in this type of turquoise jewelry in the Southwest and it has been around for a very long time. Native Americans living on reservations have to keep their jewelry trades alive, and many jewelry makers do use composite gems in their work. It’s an accepted practice. The demand for turquoise in the 21st century is so great that many of the older gem mines are now tapped out, and in each generation there is less and less high grade gem material being mined from some of these older turquoise mines, thus composite turquoise is used to meet the demand. You might think of composite turquoise as “recycled” gemstone material made beautiful again by heat.

A peer in the jewelry trade put it this way:

Very attractive and expensive jewelry is created with composite. Very unattractive and cheap jewelry as well. For obvious economic reasons, the pawn shops of the Southwest are well stocked with jewelry pieces set with composite turquoise. It’s a matter of personal taste and value.”

AUTHENTIC NATURAL turquoise is mined from a bonafied turquoise gemstone mine, cut, polished and finished by a qualified jewelry designer / gemstone cutter. It’s important to note that many differing shades and hues of color can be sourced out of the same gemstone turquoise mine. Lander turquoise, for example, can range in color from pale cream blue-white, to grey, to grey-white, to deep indigo blue.

Here are some photos of turquoise which has been mined out of the Lander County Nevada region:

 

Truthfully speaking, it is very difficult to identify exactly which mine a particular piece of turquoise gemstone may have come from originally, but the most popular and prolific turquoise mines of recent years have included:

Kingman Turquoise

Blue Gem Turquoise

Sleeping Beauty Turquoise

Royston Turquoise

Indian Mountain Turquoise

Dry Creek Turquoise

For more information on North American turquoise and mines see http://gosw.about.com/od/artscraftsandshopping/a/turquoise.htm

Dating Old Native American Jewelry

Most of the pieces in my current collection date from the 1930s-40s through the late 1980s, and on occasion I also acquire more modern pieces as well. I do my very best to date pieces accurately, to help my customers have a broad selection of items from which to choose. I definitely focus on the mid 20th century Fred Harvey period, [ 1938-1973] rather than the early Fred Harvey, [ 1900 – 1929 ] as aesthetically I just feel many of the early Fred Harvey pieces are too primitive and clunky, and their advanced age renders them more favorable as museum pieces rather than practical and appealing wearable jewelry. A case in point was the sale I made of a late 1800s very early piece of Native American made jewelry, a primitive Thunderbird pendant, to a buyer who was very disappointed with the color, dark grey patina, and the advanced age of the piece when she received it. For her it was not wearable and she stung my Ebay account with one of the very few negative feed-backs I have ever received. So I now veer away from the very very old antique pieces [ 90 to 100 years old ] and focus more on the mid 20th century material which is spectacularly beautiful and will remain wearable for generations to come if cared for properly.

More Native American Jewelry Trivia

Most Native American jewelry makers did not begin to sign their work until the late 60s / early 1970s, [ with certain exceptions ] when demand for Native American made sterling and turquoise jewelry began to explode. Believe it or not, the late 1960s Hippie Revolution in America had much to do with the popularization of vintage Native American jewelry. Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos New Mexico were all absolute hubs of counter-culture activity for the Love Generation flower children of the late 1960s and early 70s, and as the population of Northern New Mexico became swollen with the tide of wandering hippies, so did their culture of personal adornment with elaborate jewelry.

During the late Fred Harvey period the folks who were buying the most Native American made jewelry off the reservations and the street vendors on the Santa Fe Plaza were the American hippy children who were traveling between the east coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Fe. When they showed up in Height-Ashbury adorned to the gills with sparkling fantastic Native American made sterling and turquoise squash blossom necklaces, rings, cuffs and pendants, it created an immediate fashion sensation which has never really abated.

What Seattle did for flannel, Santa Fe and the American West Coast did for vintage authentic Native American jewelry: these regions gave it a permanent place in the wardrobe of everyday Americans, from doctors and lawyers to soccer moms and college kids. Native American made jewelry has become beloved by Americans in a way that other types and styles of jewelry have not. It is the most imitated and copied type of jewelry in the world. And for very good reason.

I hope this page has helped my customers learn more about Native American jewelry and how to make a good selection when investing in a little piece of American history that can be treasured for generations to come.

Leigh at Cherokee Blue Trading Post

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Links for further reading:

Turquoise Mines in the USA

What is Nickel Silver?

German Silver and Nickel Silver Types

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56 Responses to Real vs. Fake Vintage Native American Jewelry

  1. Sue says:

    Beautifully written and much appreciated by this collector. Thank you.

    Like

  2. elizabeth says:

    I have a bracelet that belonged to my great grand mother whom was full blooded cherokee. It has been passed down 4 generations, and I am interested in knowing about it’s originality. My great grand mother was born in 1889 and from what I’ve been told she made it when she was around 10 years old. It has turquoise stones about 1 and a half inch tall and half inch wide and it’s wrapped in what appears to be real silver. It would be cool to know what her handy work would be valued at but I’d also like to know a little history about jewelry that was made in 1900. It’s nothing fancy but is it possible for it to be fake if it’s that old… any input would be awesome…

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Hi,
      The earliest Native made jewelry from the late 1800s and early 1900s was often quite primitive, just as you described. Often the maker had nothing to work with other than coils of silver wire and their bare hands with some very rudimentary tools. The Navajo and Zuni were the first to learn proper silver-smithing with jewelry design tools and their very early pieces were inspired by the ornate silver bridles they saw worn by the Conquistadore’s horses decades earlier. In fact, the horseshoe shaped “naga” which adorns the traditional Navajo squash blossom necklace was inspired by the breastplate of the Spanish horses. Many Navajo first learned how to fashion silver into jewelry from Mexican and Spanish silversmiths. Their early jewelry was the most skilled at that time [ late 1800s – early 1900s]. Cherokee jewelry would have been more simple, tribal and primitive. Please keep and cherish your great grandmother’s bracelet, as it is very very very rare. Very little “early primitive” Cherokee jewelry is around, as their lives were quite harsh and did not often allow the luxury of jewelry-making during those times. Many of the Cherokee were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma during the times of the “trail of tears”in 1838. The Cherokee population in the Appalachian region was greatly reduced due to this. I hope this has helped. – Leigh

      Like

  3. smorgan0417 says:

    Hello, my grandfather was half Cherokee and I found some necklaces and bolo ties hidden in his house when cleaning it out. Would you be able to tell me anything about it?

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      I would be glad to try. Email me some nice clear sharp close up color photos to cherokeeblue888@charter.net and I’ll be glad to do a casual appraisal for you. Thanks for stopping by. Allow a few days for the appraisal. Don’t forget to stop by the
      Ebay store and look around. Merry Christmas to you! – Leigh

      Like

  4. Pingback: Fred Harvey Era Jewelry: The "Jeweled" Legacy of the Harvey House - Turquoise Skies

  5. Rob Knolle says:

    I was metal detecting in Michigan and found a “bear-claw”, coral, turquoise silver ring. It was pretty deep and that is the only thing that leads me to believe it is “vintage”. It’s a “honkin” big ring. From my readings online that may lead one to believe it may be Navajo? I tested the band to see if it was silver and it came back as “over 80%” silver. I brought it to a jeweler and they also believe it is silver. There is a very faint mark inside the ring band that looks like a hurricane symbol but a local jeweler said it may just be a stray scratch and not a hallmark. It is very hard to see and I cannot get a good picture of it. Some red flags that maybe you can help with… 1. The coral piece in most of the rings I have seen is usually red or orange in color, the piece in the ring I found is white, as if it were bleached out or faded. I know a little bit about coral (SCUBA instructor for 20 years) and I know this can happen to real coral, just wondered your thoughts would be on this? 2. The “bear claw” is breaking up a bit, again, I know bone/claws will do this if they are in the ground for a long period of time. Just wondering what you think. I can send pictures if you would like.

    Like

  6. Melody Deocampo says:

    Hi, I love this article. My grandmother gave me what she called “Indian trading beads”. She was born in Oklahoma and said “Indians came to their home, knocked on the door, and she and her brother hid under the bed. Her mother gave them flour and sugar and they gave her beads”. They seem to be some kind of glass on a rope which may or may not be the original rope. Do you know where I can get them appraised?

    Like

  7. Cindi Kohler says:

    I have a squashblossom necklace that I want to sell. It is a beautiful piece, but I do not know how or whom to contact to have someone tell me just exactly what or whom made it. I was told by someone that it was made in the early 1920’s. I had taken it to Heards Museum and paid to have it appraised and the guy said he would buy it from me if I took it to his store tomorrow. I didn’t and the store has moved since then. that was three years or so ago. At the time I wasn’t interested in selling it. I am not sure if I want to now ,but my financial state has changed and I have to do things differently than I thought. If you could help me out or tell me who I need to see I would be very grateful. I thank you for your time an if you would like to contact me I can be reached at :kohlercindi@gmail.com

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Hi Cindi,

      If you will email several good high resolution photos to me at cherokeeblue888@charter.net I can tell you approximately what you
      can expect to get for your squash blossom, but now is not a good time to sell. Silver dropped precipitously overnight and is trading
      low this week. You want to wait until silver is trading at more than $22-$24 an oz to get your best price. Condition, rarity, the stamping, what kind of gems the piece has … all make a difference in assessing price. Send a few photos to me and I will have a look for you. – Leigh

      Like

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  9. Dennis says:

    Hi ,
    Really enjoyed this article, I’m looking to buy Native American jewelry for men could you help me to find the right place?
    I’m from France and always liked Navarro and Native American jewelry, but like you’re article explains there is too much fake around !
    Kind regards Dennis

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      In my ideal “buyers” scenario for you

        I am the right place, lol

      , but for security and privacy reasons, right now my collection is offline.
      I am picky to the extreme and I also know many “Native” sellers who cheat customers just to make a buck. Believe it or not, right now
      in early 2017 there are only TWO old pawn and sterling Native made jewelry sellers who are online that I would recommend. Stay away from Ebay!
      80% of what’s on there is not real. I’m very sorry it has come to that, but Ebay will let anyone sell anything, no scruples, and they could care less if the piece turns out to be a fake. I bought and sold on Ebay for 5 years, and I saw some very bad deals go down. Buyer beware of Ebay!

      Here are two good online sellers:

      http://horsekeeping.com

      http://durangosilver.com

      Both are experts and have been around for a very long time! Reputable.

      Also … stay away from modern pawn shops unless they are in the southwest USA region. Most pawn brokers are the very worst
      when it comes to Native American jewelry knowledge, and they are hustlers. They will sell a mediocre trashed out squash blossom
      worth $150 tops – for $450 or more if they think they can get away with it. This has been my experience consistently for decades.

      I hope this has helped. When I put my collection back up, I’ll email you!

      Leigh

      Like

  10. FRANCIS ACCORSINI says:

    I have a silver dollar bracelet that I am sure my father purchased in the early 40’s in Wyoming. It is marked “nickel silver” and above it a mark which appears to be a sign post with the sign hanging from a horizontal arrow. Above is mention the problems with the “nickel silver” hallmark. Were fakes made that far back

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      1.13.2017
      Hi Francis,
      It doesn’t sound to me like your piece is a fake. A hallmarked piece of jewelry was [and is] a point of personal
      pride for the Native American jewelry artisan who made it. The problem is ‘value’. As you might know “nickel silver” is a non-silver alloy that contains ZERO precious metal content. This is greatly distressing to those who unknowingly buy these pieces [ I refer to modern made items 1970s 80s til now] for their shiny almost “chrome-like” appearance, only to find later there is no silver content in the piece. Now right now that’s not such a big deal, but later on, as silver climbs again up toward $35-$45an ounce, an 85-gram cuff or pendant is worth much more if it’s made from sterling silver, which will show as a “.925” stamp on the item – or also as stamped “Sterling” or “Sterling silver”. Some very old pieces will be stamped as “.950 sterling” – which is quite rare. Much of the finer TAXCO Mexican made silver jewelry of the early 20th century will be .950 silver content.

      The hallmark on your item sounds like it can be looked up if you want to spend the time. Many very fine
      and talented Native American jewelry designers were quite poor in the early 20th century, thus were forced to create original works in ‘nickel silver.’ Those pieces

        do have collector value

      but it is not based on their precious metal content.

      I have some links for you to follow if you want to learn more:

      http://www.art-amerindien.com/signature_bijoux_amerindiens.htm

      http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/aboutpawn.htm

      http://www.indianvillage.com/Native-American-Jewelers-Hallmarks.htm

      The first link will be the most helpful. Grab a cup of coffee and just spend some time going through A-Z. Enjoy your Native American jewelry adventure!

      Leigh

      Like

  11. Stephany Shaw says:

    I have a large old navijo silver cuff bracelet with a beautiful piece of turquoise that has cracked over the years. Should I replace it repair it or leave it alone in order to sell it

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Your piece is practically worthless with cracked gems in it. My counsel would be to have a talented experienced jeweler with a good long reputation replace the broken gem with a nice one. – Leigh

      Like

  12. Rebecca Keetch says:

    Hello. My name is Rebecca keetch and I lost my grandpa in September. He was raised in New Mexico on a reservation in borrego pass I believe. Anyway, he gave me a beautiful silver and turquoise cuff he had from the trading post over 100 years old. I was wondering what it was worth and if I should wear it or put it away! I will never sell it as it was my grandpas. But if I sent you a picture could you help give me more information? My grandma tried but with grandpa gone, it’s hard to know. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Hi Rebecca, The photos have to be very sharp in focus with high resolution and even then I cannot always see zoomed details I n3eed. But I’ll be glad to look. If it was ME I would not sell that cuff. But send over 2-3 photos and I will have a look for you.

      Leigh

      Like

  13. Loveda says:

    Hello, I have a large necklace marked Herman and has the initials.. H.M.S any idea what this may be? Thank you for your time.

    Like

    • Loveda says:

      Sorry, I should have included.. it is very large and heavy. Has turquoise and what appears to be silver though it doesn’t say silver. It also included the name Herman. I have had this piece for a long time. Would like to know what it is. Is this junk jewelry? Polishes up nice and is very pretty. Thank you for your replies. Loveda

      Like

    • Screenshot says:

      I have no idea on this one. I really need to have photos. Email me several HIGH RES photos & I’ll have a quick peek.

      Leigh

      Like

  14. Johanna Welty says:

    I just discovered your website and, like others before me, am so impressed by your willingness to share your knowledge. I inherited a large collection of Native American jewelry from my grandfather, a European art collector who treasured the American Southwest. Over the years, I have added pieces to this collection but a few years ago ventured onto eBay. Your comments concerning eBay hit home since, in 2014 after a major surgery, I purchased a “Navajo Old Pawn” bracelet that was advertised with no dimensions by an eBay seller in Phoenix, AZ. After the bracelet arrived, I discovered it was far too large for my wrist, Finally, this year I decided to sell it on eBay and overkilled on supplying dimensions since I wanted any new buyer to have all of the dimensions before making the purchase. To my amazement, the bracelet sold to a buyer who then returned it, claiming that the bracelet was “not as described.” It turned out that he really believed that the turquoise — which I never questioned — was “block” turquoise. I had never heard of “block” turquoise so greatly appreciate your explaining it above. My concern is how to determine if turquoise is “block” or even the “plastic resin” that you also mention above. I will email you photos of this otherwise handsome bracelet.

    The other concern is when a piece is marked “sterling.” When did silversmiths begin to mark pieces as “sterling?” If a piece is marked sterling, does this mean it was made after a certain date?
    I recently spoke with a respected auction house gemologist who believes that anything marked “sterling” would not be “old pawn.”

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Hi, You and I have been dialoguing on email by now and I just sent you more info on your cuff this morning. Native made jewelry which is stamped “STERLING”
      in some form [.925 etc ] began appearing in the early 1900s. “Block” turquoise often has a super-hard polish on the surface and the “matrix” lines won’t look real under a 5X or 10X jeweler’s loupe. Tiny chips might also reveal a white interior in the case of dyed Howlite. The only way I can tell for sure is to handle a piece and examine it under a loupe, but in some cases I can tell by looking at high resolution photos. I speculate your piece DOES have block turquoise but the Navajo hallmark on it is real and the piece will hold up as a collector piece due to that hallmark. – Check your email …. – Leigh

      Like

  15. Hi Guys, very helpful article. Thanks 🙂

    Like

  16. Robert F. says:

    Good morning, I hope you can help. My Nana passed recently and I inherited 3 squash blossom necklaces. I live in Texas and do not have a clue where to go to find out their history. One is marked LC, another RH, and the last unmarked. I can send photos if you need them. I did not see any other marks ( sterling, .925, nickel-silver, ), although the one marked RH has either a A or a arrow mark on it. I have some paperwork that says Fox mine but don’t know which one.
    Thank you

    Like

  17. sabocatgirl says:

    I am thinking about purchasing a concho belt. The one I am looking at has a really interesting signature on it. “SOCE” is stamped on he back of the buckle along with a soldered feather with a small coral bezeled at the base of the feather. “Sterling” is also stamped on it. I’m having a hard time finding this mark anywhere else. The seller says it is from the early 1980’s. If I sent you pictures, do you think you would be able to tell me anymore about it?

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Run a google search on ‘old pawn Native American hallmarks’ and there’s a site out there that specializes in producing 100s of pages of images
      of rare old hallmarks with all the info. If you can locate that site, that’s the one where you will most likely find solid info on the hallmark
      you are describing.

      Leigh

      Like

  18. Shawnee says:

    Hi! I live in Santa Ynez CA. There was one store here that sold authentic Native American jewelry but he went out of business recently. Is there any specific store(s)/ online shops that you can recommend to find an authentic vintage squash blossom necklace? I really want one but don’t know any other trustworthy places to look. Thanks!

    S

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Yes, I recommend ME! LOL! I’ve sold all but the last and rarest of my vintage squash blossoms at this time. But I still have ONE left. It dates to the 1960s, is in pristine condition, and was crafted by Native American jewelry designer Jerry Francisco. It’s valued at about $1875.00. I’ll take $1500.00 firm for it. Let me know if you want to see photos and I will email some to you. – Leigh

      Like

  19. Kim R. says:

    Hi Leigh, I love these earrings. What can you tell me about them and are they for sale?
    P1110526
    Thanks,
    Kim

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Hi Kim, Those are sold, so sorry. This fall I’m posting photos and prices for EVERYTHING I have in inventory, and I am sure you will find something that works for you then. Hang tight til then. I am dealing with illness in my family right now.

      Like

  20. Jacqui says:

    I have seen a cuff bangle stamped Allen Chee but I can’t find a silver mark. It is wide and heavy but it smells like an alloy. Did Allen Chee make any non silver cuffs or any not marked silver. It has turquoise and coral looking stones. Are these faked
    Thank you

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Jacqui I would need to look at some good photos of these pieces and right now I am traveling, closing out one home and relocating. It might be some time before I can look at your pieces, but hang onto your photos and at some point soon I will examine some photos for you once I get settled.

      Like

  21. Jennifer Madrigal says:

    Hi, I am looking for a Native American Jeweler that could remake a ring I lost from a picture I still have of it. My grandfather made it while he was alive and it was sterling silver and turquoise. If you know anyone who could do this, please let me know. Thank you for your help.

    Like

  22. Holly W. says:

    Hi! I have three rings I found in a junk/costume jewelry bin at a vintage/antique/thrift store. I am almost positive that they are real sterling silver and turquoise…. and very possibly Navajo. I have tested the bands with a magnet to be sure they are not nickel. They are not the slightest bit magnetic. There is a single trademark on the back, a broken arrow, and no other markings. The arrow is almost hidden on one ring because it was stamped where the ring band was attached. Could I send you pictures and get your opinion on these?

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      That “Broken Arrow” mark is made by an excellent jeweler out of Arizona. He’s a white jewelry designer who studied under a Navajo and his work is superb. I’ve bought and sold quite a few of those pieces. They are very well made. Hang onto your rings. When I get a new email address I’ll give them a glance.

      Like

  23. Christina says:

    Hello! My grandmother gifted me a beautiful piece many years ago that she had acquired. I believe it is a squash blossom necklace. If I sent you photos, would you be able to tell me if it is real/ appraise it for me? Although I love it very much, I am looking to sell.

    Thank you,
    Christina

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      I’d be very interested to see and possibly acquire your piece but right now I am traveling and I am offline most of the time. Hang onto everything in the way of photos til I post a new email address, then you can send photos and I will have a look.

      Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Christina, I couldn’t recall if I had replied to your query, so here is an update. Until November 1st, you can still get a free appraisal on your squash blossom. More details:

      Beginning on November 1st, all jewelry appraisals must be prepaid via Paypal. Remit $20 per item to pelican97444@yahoo.com via Paypal. Normal appraisals will run $20 each item usd. Exotic, super rare and esoteric items that require extra research will run $35 per hour with a one hour minimum. Until then, you can send 2-3 nice clear high res photos to pelican97444@yahoo.com.

      Leigh

      Like

  24. Jen says:

    Hey! Been collecting for quite some time at a snails pace. Loving what I’ve found along the way and in awe at the pieces that are out of my budget. However, just acquired my Squash Blossom… been wanting one since I was a little girl. Also, just had my first run-in with a fake / reproduction Fred Harvey piece. I’m in the process of returning it to the vendor and hoping all goes well. (Wish me luck!). You just know when something is real…

    Like

  25. Jennifer walter says:

    Thanks for the wonderful article on how to spot a fake. I found a necklace and the stones are Azurite Malachite. Is this an uncommon stone for authentic and I have concerns about my barrel clasp. Its the only part doesnt test silver on my unsigned piece. Any insite wld be awsome. Thanks again. Love to learn. Jenn

    Like

  26. Christine Tuthill says:

    Hi – thanks for all the great info. I have a turquoise necklace and I don’t know the vintage. It is 8 oz with squash blossoms and a horseshoe pendant in the center. The center of the pendant is marked “TR” on the reverse. I would say the marking is not sophisticated like a silver makers mark. Any idea if the artisans put their initials on their work?

    Like

    • Screenshot says:

      Yes, they absolutely did. A signed piece is worth much more than unsigned in the collector world. I am traveling now, but when I “land” again I will post an email address where you can send me a photo and I’ll have a look. Just hold onto your piece til I can see it and give you a free appraisal. It will need to be tested for silver content, if it doesn’t have a “.925” mark on it. Regards.

      Like

    • Chris Tuthill says:

      Happy to send you photos of the necklace. Do you have an email address?

      Like

  27. Hello! I just purchased a very pretty 14k marked circular gecko pendant (at a pawn shop in Phoenix) with what appears to be a sea blue turquoise inlay around the body. It definitely looks like some of Calvin Begay’s work. On the back it looks like Calvin Begay was signed but it was not in print and it looks like someone tried to remove the signature as it is really light and it also has a B scripted on it to the right of the signature and a X or Y to the right of the signature. Do you think this is one of his pieces? Could it be a fake? I could see if it was silver but it is nice and heavy and signed 14k. THanks for any help you can provide!

    Like

  28. Very well written thank you so much for all the wonderful facts you have gathered here-I really appreciate the time you have taken to put this together-Very very interesting

    Like

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