How Do You Know It’s Authentic Native American Indian Jewelry?

Authentic Native American Indian jewelry is as much a fashion statement as a piece of art. The right piece can accent your facial features and attire or show how current you are to trends in the fashion world. Native American Indian jewelry also connects you to a rich artistic tradition among Pueblo and Native cultures…if it’s authentic.

Historical, Artistic and Monetary Value

Jewelry-making has been part of the artistic tradition of many Pueblos and Nations for over a century. The Spanish first introduced silversmithing to Navajo and other Native American Indian people in the Southwest. Since then, the Pueblos and Tribes have developed their own unique styles and perfected techniques that they pass down from generation to generation.

Jewelry created using these time-honored techniques are, indeed, art. Artists create one-of-a-kind pieces using hand tools and techniques that rely on imagination, skill and patience rather than a machine. Sand casting or tufa casting, for instance, requires that a silversmith first carve the mold for silver from materials that will be destroyed when the molten silver is poured. Yet the detail of the designs like this tufa cast bracelet (left) by Santo Domingo silversmith Gilbert “Dino” Garcia, hints at the amount of time and skill required to create the mold.

Similarly, the intricacy of patterns and size of stones in many inlay pieces, most notably by Zuni artists (right), illustrate the artist’s attention to detail. More impressive is that Native American Indian artists do not use adhesives to set their stones, but wedge them into their settings or inlay patterns with sand and other materials.