Posted by Leslie Garcia on


Even if you've been wearing Native American jewelry for years, it may be difficult to tell whether or not something is authentic and handmade.  Here are a few ways to tell:

1) Look for the stamp. Most .925 sterling silver jewelry will be stamped as such, usually underneath or on the inside of an item. While many Native American artists will sign their jewelry, a few do not. If it is not signed, your seller should offer a Certificate of Authenticity. If it is signed, it with be stamped with either the artist's name, initials, or their unique hallmark.

2) Note the imperfections. This is for all you perfectionists out there! When a piece contains genuine stones, they will likely contain matrix (the dark veins that run through the stone) or uneven coloring, especially if the stone is very large. If you see a piece of turuqoise without a speck of matrix, chances are that the stone is fake. For now, just keep the above in mind. We will do a separate post all about the various colors of turquoise.  

In addition, handmade Native American crafts may not be perfectly uniform. For instance, Navajo stampwork around the edge of a bracelet or ring might have one or two places where it's not perfectly in line with the rest. Of course, this isn't fool-proof. However, if a piece of jewelry looks like it came out of a machine, it probably did.

3) Find out the seller's history. The longer the seller has been in the business, the better your chances are that they are getting it straight from the source. We tend to know the ins and outs of where to find the highest-quality jewelry. Through years of experience, we know what to look for, what to avoid, and we know when we've come upon a truly unique piece (in which case it cannot be passed up, and we will bring it to you!).

At Mesa Verde Southwest, we carry both genuine Native American jewelry, and southwestern jewelry. Personally, I have been in business for over 20 years, but my family has been in this business for generations. I do most of my buying straight from Gallup, New Mexico. Artists will also come to me, and often I can meet them at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. To learn more about my history in the business, visit our About Us page. 


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