Fake or Real?What to look for in authentic American Indian jewelry.
“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.” –Salvador Dalí
How can buyers of American Indian jewelry be sure of the authenticity and quality of the piece they are purchasing?
Buyers should first “go to the right places” to buy jewelry, such as museums and well-established retailers who know the product, says Charles Myers, who owns Native American Tribal Arts in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been buying and selling Indian jewelry since the early 1970s. “The jewelry made with nickel silver is what you’ll often find at stands along the road, at flea markets and other less reputable places,” Myers warns.
Silver trader Glenn Leighton at Notah Dineh Trading Co., Cortez, Colorado, concurs. “Buy the best quality that you can afford, and buy it from somebody who has some history,” Leighton says.
Part of the charm of owning Indian silver is being able to brag about who made a particular piece and where the turquoise came from. “There are some characteristics associated with the various mines,” Leighton says. “But you never really know for sure, unless you are dealing with the person who mined it or who knows who mined it.”
Check out our tips in the slide show to help you figure out if the jewelry you’re interested in buying is fake or real.
Find Your Dealer The Indian Arts and Crafts Association, formed in 1974 and based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can guide you to member artists, dealers and collectors who sell authentic American Indian jewelry. 505-265-9149 • IACA.com