Posted on: 16 August 2016
Native American jewelry can reflect years of culture, values, and traditions. Whether you're shopping for yourself or a friend, you want to find a piece that shows beauty while also adequately representing your own beliefs or those of your loved one. Here are three different things to keep in mind when shopping with tips on how to find the perfect, authentic item.
Gold versus Silver
Many people prefer to one or the other, but if you're vacillating between gold and silver, here are a few differences between the two that might help you zero in on the right choice.
Gold is typically more expensive than silver due to its rarity, and you will see variations in price, depending on the seller.
Also, before purchasing gold Native American jewelry, think about how durable the item needs to be, and consider how much wear and tear the jewelry will possibly be exposed to. In other words, are you buying it for a child or someone who remains fairly active? Gold ranges in purity from 10K to 24K, and a lower number does not equate to lower quality; it simply means it's harder and more durable. So 10K gold won't dent and ding as much as 24K.
Silver is less expensive than gold but also tends to be soft, depending on its purity. For most Native American jewelry options, lean towards 92.5% purity for better strength and hardiness.
Unlike gold, silver jewelry will tarnish over time. This is completely normal, and a soft cloth made for polishing silver can be used to clean your jewelry in minutes.
Stones and Symbols
Native American jewelry often displays a multitude of shapes, symbols, and stones that come with different meanings for the culture or tribe. Native Americans believe that everything has a spirit, including people, animals, and even rocks and plants, and they are respected for their power and wisdom. Therefore, things found in nature are often represented in their jewelry.
- Kokopelli. A silhouette of a Native American hunched over and playing the flute, the kokopelli is a symbol of fertility for both women and in farming.
- Dream Catcher. Nightmares are thought to get tangled up in the web of the dream catcher, so they are believed to induce happy dreams.
- Indian Eagle. The eagle represents bravery and is thought to have a special connection to the creator. The Indian eagle is also referred to as the "master of the sky."
- Feathers. Believed to carry with them the energy of the bird from which they fell. Different feathers represent different things, but overall they create a sense of connectedness to the creator.
- Turquoise. Turquoise holds more value to the Native Americans than gold. Turquoise represents life, health, and fortune.
- Coral. Often paired with turquoise, coral is thought to bring about protection, which offers the wearer a sense of safety and connectedness to their feelings.
When buying Native American jewelry, you want to be sure it's authentic and handmade. Representing it as such when it isn't is against the law. So how can you tell?
First of all, look for a hallmark. This is the artist's signature on the back and is an indicator of an authentic piece. Keep in mind, however, that signatures are a recent addition to the jewelry-making process, so if you have an older piece, no signature doesn't necessarily mean it's fake.
Secondly, while authentic gold pieces are out there, Native American jewelry is traditionally made with sterling silver. To test your item, use a small magnet. If you don't get a "pull," you're dealing with sterling silver.
Lastly, an authentic piece should indicate whether the turquoise is natural or stabilized. Natural turquoise is rare these days, comprising only 3% of what's available around the world. Stabilized turquoise has been treated with a hardening solution for durability and is generally more common and cheaper than its natural counterpart.
Because it can be difficult for the novice to identify an authentic piece of Native American jewelry, it's recommended to purchase from those who are happy to answer your questions and who seem knowledgeable about jewelry worn and made by the different tribes, such as a company like Sunface Traders.Share