It’s an unfortunate truth – there’s a lot of fake Native American jewelry out there. As Native American products and designs become increasingly popular, there’s naturally going to be imitators. The reality is that the jewelry that’s made in factories overseas doesn’t even come close to matching the beauty, quality, and craftsmanship that has made authentic American Indian turquoise jewelry so desirable. Here’s a guide to help you ensure that your next purchase is truly genuine.
In the world of jewelry, it’s good to be a skeptic. When you run into a price that seems too good to be true, it usually is. That doesn’t mean you can’t hunt for good deals, but you should always be wary of prices that don’t reflect the quality of the piece. Authentic American Indian turquoise jewelry is generally handmade and requires a great deal of skill, time, and effort. With that in mind, it’s important that artisans are compensated accordingly. An unusually low price doesn’t automatically mean a piece isn’t authentic, but it should definitely be a warning flag.
There are federal laws that prohibit dealers from advertising fake Native American art as authentic. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 states that only products created by a federally recognized nation or tribe can label their products using the terms “Native American” and “Indian.” If you see jewelry advertised as “American Indian-style” or “American Indian-inspired,” it’s probably not authentic. Always keep an eye out for deceitful wording when you shop for American Indian turquoise jewelry.
Many Native American jewelry designers stamp their jewelry with a small hallmark or signature. Before you purchase hallmarked jewelry, look up other pieces to make sure that the insignia looks the same as other genuine pieces. However, not all artists sign or hallmark their jewelry, so a lack of either doesn’t necessarily mean that the piece isn’t authentic.
The Magnet Test
Native American jewelry artisans take great pride in the materials that they use. While it’s not necessarily a universal truth, most authentic Southwestern American Indian turquoise jewelry is crafted using sterling silver. Hold a magnet to the piece. Silver doesn’t magnetize, so if the jewelry responds to the magnet, it’s probably silver-plated.
Dealers are required by law to disclose whether the turquoise stone is natural or stabilized. Natural stones are the more desirable option, and their unaltered state will generally cost more. However, stabilized stones are becoming increasingly common as turquoise mining is diminishing in many parts of the world. While some artists may use stabilized stones, natural stones are usually a sign that your American Indian turquoise jewelry is, in fact, authentic.
Buy from a Trusted Dealer
The best way to avoid buying fake jewelry is to avoid dealers that sell it. At Southwest Silver Gallery, we’ve built a solid reputation by sourcing our genuine Native American jewelry from artisans representing the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, and Santo Domingo tribes. If you’d like further information about our artists, our products, or how to authenticate your jewelry, just give us a call at 1-888-476-4367, or send us a message online through our contact page.