Buying Authentic Native American

Four Corners USA Tips for purchasing Authentic Native American Jewelry Art and Craft explores some basic information when choosing your new treasure. If you currently own authentic American Indian Jewelry, you already know it has a very distinct look and feel. It is a very sad day when the topic of discussion is an ever growing problem of subtle (sometimes blatant) misrepresentation of american Cultural Art namely Native American Indian Jewelry but please note this goes beyond jewelry including woven textiles, rugs, pottery etc.).

There have been issues with misrepresentation and fraud of Native American Art (in all forms) for many, many years. For the most part, the general public may or may not even know just how extensive the problem was/is (or worse, not care). Although there are Laws to Protect Indigenous Artists from these infringements, unfortunately in our fast paced world enforcement may not always occur as quickly as needed.

For years the Hopi fought having their ‘Hallmarks’ in printed materials because of theft and fraud from overseas jewelry makers. In our own experience while exhibiting at Art/Jewelry Shows around the country, we were approached by a visitor proudly telling us his family makes ‘these bracelets’ in the Philippines with Turquoise shipped from Flagstaff….as you can imagine it was not the ‘Turquoise from Flagstaff’ that was of disconcert but the proud inference of a copy. 

The Newest Trend

We realize many folks simply LOVE Turquoise or Southwestern Style-Color Jewelry as a bold and wonderful Fashion Statement.

This article is for those of you who truly respect American Artisan Handcrafts and want to own a piece of Authentic Native American Indian Jewelry that we share a growing trend visible in Brick and Mortar Stores as well as On-Line Dealers. I call this new trend ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ with a dab of ‘Bait and Switch’.

Although no law may be broken, it became apparent to me today (when a customer called, he was Cherokee heritage) that the general public ‘sees the real deal in all items offered’ because so many pieces of non-Native American Indian Made Jewelry (emulating Native pieces) are in the mix of a few ‘leader-priced’ Authentic Native American Jewelry (often at below market values because the real profits for these sellers are in the imported product – hence the ‘Bait & Switch’ part). 

For Authentic Native American Indian Made Jewelry look for:

First bit of information to look for are basic identifying terms that specify Native American MADE, a Tribal Affiliation and Artist Name; upstanding dealers are honored and proud to share this information. Granted there are times when an Artist is not known to the seller or even the Artist did not sign a piece of their jewelry but this should be the exception and not the norm.

Another marketing trick seems to be adding well known, highly searched Native American Indian names to product titles and descriptions such as 'blah blah blah NativeAmericanArtistName Style or Inspired blah blah blah'. Of course 'NativeAmericanArtistName' is replaced with actual names of world renowned Native American Silversmiths to capitalize on search engines etc.

Throughout our lives we have often heard ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ (although my friends from the 'Show Me' State tell me This image can often trick our minds into an assumption or belief that when we see an image of an initialed piece of jewelry that it is automatically a Hallmarked piece of Native American Indian Made Jewelry. The initialing of foreign made southwestern style jewelry has been going on for a very long time, but in our visual Internet world is becoming much more prominent. Don’t let your ‘Eye’ deceive your ‘Mind’…READ, READ, READ. 

Who does this Harm?

The distribution of ‘Navajo Style’ Southwestern Jewelry is harmful in so many ways and for starters financially hurts Native American Artists, their families, their communities and the value of their craft. Quite frankly this clever and subtle deception is an insult to honoring Native American Culture and American History.

The second phase of flooding the market with mass produced and initialed ‘Navajo Style’ jewelry is what happens 10, 15, 20 years from now? What kind of confusion will there be in the marketplace when Jewelry with Native American Cultural Symbols and (someone's) initials float to the surface? In 50 years from now will these pieces be identifiable as ‘Non-Native’? What will become of Authentic Native American Indian Cultural Art if we enable the distribution of 'look alike' pieces?

Deception is just a part of the ‘Hidden Dangers’ in the Internet world. There are wonderful Native American Artists and Representatives with treasures in a variety of price ranges. For those of you who truly want an American Treasure there is plenty of dialog throughout the web regarding choosing Authentic Native American Jewelry. We will continue to update this page with informational links from reputable websites. We hope you will choose wisely and

Choose Authentic Native American Indian


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