Interested in Native American jewelry? Want to know how to determine if itís genuine?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission to help us with some basic information.


We Know: Genuine Native American Jewelry

What does it mean when an item is marked 'Native American', 'Indian', 'Alaska Native' or 'Navajo Jewelry'?

By federal law, any item produced after 1935 that is marked with those or similar terms must be made by a member of a Stated of federally-recognized tribe or certified Indian artisan.

How do I know Iím getting genuine Native American jewelry?

Here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting the real thing:

  • Buy from an established dealer who will give you a written guarantee.
  • Ask if the item comes with a certification tag from the Department of the Interior.
  • Consider the price. If the item is cheap, it may be counterfeit. Most authentic, high-quality American Indian jewelry is expensive.
  • Consider the materials. Most Indian artisans make their jewelry from sterling silver complemented with opaque stones, such as coral, onyx, shell, turquoise, lapis lazuli, or carnelian.

What kinds of silver will I find in American Indian jewelry?

  1. Sterling silver, which contains 92.5 parts silver and 7.5 parts other metal. Any item market Ďsilverí must be sterling, according to government regulation.
  2. Coin silver, which contains 90 parts silver and 10 parts metal.
  3. German silver, which contains 60 parts copper, 20 parts zinc and 20 parts nickel. This is used in some Sioux and Southern Plains Indians metal work, but it is not silver, nor should it be labeled as silver.
  4. Drawn silver is a term that describes the way sterling sheet silver is rolled and pulled through a draw plate, then cut into segments and strung into necklaces. The majority of liquid silver is manufactured, not handmade.

Where do the common stones used in Native American jewelry come from?

  • Carnelian is a quartz stone.
  • Coral is made from the hardened secretion of small sea creatures.
  • Lapis Lazuli is a rock of mostly lazurite, pyrite and calcite.
  • Onyx is a translucent quartz stone.
  • Shell material comes from the outer surface of marine animals, like oysters and abalone.
  • Turquoise is a copper mineral.


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