What is a Restocking Fee? What is Horsekeeping’s Policy?



The amount that is charged by the seller for the acceptance of any merchandise that is being returned for a refund. (Black’s Law Dictionary)

Are retail sellers in the United States required by law to accept returns?

No. In the United States there is no requirement or law that says that sellers must accept returns.

In addition, it is perfectly legal, acceptable, and customary for a retailer that DOES accept returns to charge a restocking fee.

The retailer might not charge a restocking fee if the customer is exchanging the item for something else but might charge a restocking fee if the customer wants a cash refund.

In some locations and instances in the US, it is required that a seller conspicuously post or require that a buyer read the return policies before the buyer can place an order.


Why do retailers charge a restocking fee?

Retailers charge a restocking fee when someone returns an item and wants a cash refund for several reasons – all related to the seller trying to recover part of the costs of a sale that has been reversed.

1. When someone places and pays for an order, the seller pays up to 5% to have that payment processed by a credit card processor.

2. When the seller issues a refund to a buyer, the seller pays up to 5% for that credit card transaction.


3. Often a seller provides free shipping or low shipping to customers but when an item is returned, the seller is out the extra shipping and handling that may have been provided.


4. When the item is returned, the seller must determine whether the item is still salable as new and unused.  The item must be prepared for resale and put back up for sale. In the case of internet sales, this means relisting the item. The time and handling costs for this are part of what the seller is trying to recoup.

5. If an returned item is determined to be unsalable as new and unused, then it must be sold as used, usually at a reduced price.

SALE_PRICE_LABEL_36. While the item is in transit between seller and buyer and back to the seller, the item is off the market and unable to be sold. This is especially relevant with one-of-a-kind items such as art and hand made jewelry.

What is a customary restocking fee?

If a retailer accepts returns and the customer receives a return authorization from the seller, the restocking fees usually range from 10-30% depending on the circumstances.

If a customer does not follow a retailer’s return policies, there may be no refund at all.

To give you an idea of how various internet business use restocking fees:

amazonAmazon sellers “can charge a restocking fee up to 20% of the item price if the buyer changes mind due to buyer remorse or price difference.”

ebay-logo-redesign-1eBay sellers “can charge a restocking fee on returns as long as the policy is stated in the listing.” No limits are set.
What about Horsekeeping?
CaptureHorsekeeping has a policy page that is posted on the website. Every buyer must check that they have read and accept the policies before they can complete a purchase.
Our return policy is YES – ((except for a short list of non-returnable items)) – we DO accept returns within 7 days of your receipt of an item. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t fit, you can return it for its FULL ITEM VALUE in an exchange for something of equal or greater value  – the exchange must take place within one week from our receipt of the return.
However, if you are not going to exchange, but want a cash refund, then the moderate restocking fee of 15% will be deducted from your refund.
This restocking fee covers:
  • our credit card processing fee to accept your initial payment
  • our credit card processing fee to issue your credit refund
  • the excess shipping and handling fees that we did not charge you (we charge low shipping or provide free shipping and often pay for the balance of the shipping, the insurance, the signature confirmation and other packaging charges out of our own pocket)
  • our handling of the returned item to get it ready for sale again
  • possible lowering of the price of the item (we often put returned items as used in the Pawn Shop or Bargain Barn)
  • our webmaster’s fee to relist the item.
Some people say that the costs associated with returns should just be absorbed by the seller as they are just the cost of doing business.
Well, it wouldn’t take too many returns for a seller to feel the need to raise prices across the board on items or shipping and handling.
Here at horsekeeping, we would rather keep our item prices fair and charge reasonable shipping and handling fees.  It wouldn’t make sense for us to penalize the majority of our customers by raising prices or fees to cover the costs of returns by a few. Instead, we feel the responsible approach is to have the very few customers that want to return things pay the appropriate restocking fees.
Returns are costly for a seller. Read my previous post which has some interesting examples:

How Returns Affect Buyers and Sellers – Two Case Studies

paula-best-sigTo view our full list of articles or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here


If you are selling your jewelry, read this


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Bennie Ration, extraordinary Navajo silversmith and artist

Bennie Ration

One of the greatest contemporary Native American jewelry silversmiths of our time, award-winning Bennie Ration has a distinct three dimensional style with geometric patterns figuring prominently in his pieces. Using overlay to highlight and accent his designs, Bennie Ration creates unique pieces using the finest materials. His pieces are recognized all over the world as some of the finest silverwork. Bennie was born in March of 1955 to Francis and John Ration of the Canoncito Navajo reservation in New Mexico. His father, John, began teaching Bennie the art of silversmithing in grade school. From age 11, Bennie was a talented artist.

Bennie ration developed a unique look to his pieces which include overlay, exceptional stones, three dimensional kachina figures, animals, feathers and other designs.


Fox Mountain Turquoise Pendant with Overlay Collar Necklace by Navajo artist Bennie Ration


Lizard Pin Pendant by Bennie RationNPP452-lizard-turq-ration-1


Turtle Pin Pendant by Bennie Ration


Natural Persian Turquoise Maiden Ring by Bennie Ration


Lapis Lazuli and Denim Lapis in Native American Jewelry

Lapis is a deep blue stone often with gold flecking that twinkles like stars.

The most desirable lapis is solid, deep blue with no white calcite spots and just a sprinkling of glittering golden yellow pyrite. Such material is found only in Afghanistan (mined there for over 7000 years) and Pakistan and……….there is a limited amount of lapis mined in the western part of Colorado (Italian Mountain) that is deep blue with large amounts of pyrite. Other places where lapis is mined include Egypt, Mongolia, Canada, and Chile. 

The name lapis lazuli is a combination of the Latin word lapis (“stone”) and the Arabian name azul, meaning “blue.” Lapis is one of the few rocks considered to be a gem and is one of the first gemstones ever to be worn as jewelry. A lapis gemstone won’t fade in light and does not show wear normally but like many gemstones, it can be scratched and chipped. Clean it only with a soft, dry cloth to maintain its shine.


Lapis Lazuli Sterling Silver Bracelet by Navajo artist Peterson JohnsonNBT456-lapis-7-johnson-4

The powers associated with lapis:

Many ancient cultures believed that lapis lazuli contained magical powers. In the Middle Ages, monks powdered the stone and kneaded it into dough with beeswax, resin and linseed oil, for use in illuminated manuscripts. Today, people around the world consider lapis lazuli to be a stone of awareness, able to impart knowledge and wisdom.  It is reputed to bring about harmony in relationships and to cleanse the mind bringing about self-acceptance.

The astrological sign of lapis lazuli is Sagittarius.


Lapis Lazuli Sterling Silver Pendant by Peterson Johnson, Navajo

Lapis can also be a deep blue black, mysterious color such as this ring.


Lapis Ring by Peterson Johnson

Denim lapis
Denim lapis is a light bluish-white form of lapis lazuli. This stone comes close to the color of faded denim material, hence the name.


Denim Lapis Sterling Silver Bracelet by Peterson Johnson, Navajo

This pendant looks like stone washed denim, doesn’t it?


Denim Lapis Sterling Silver Pendant by Navajo artist Peterson Johnson



Lapis and Denim lapis are sometimes confused with sodalite


Two sides of a sodalite bear fetish by Zuni carver Emery Eriachosodabear-off

Sodalite is a rich royal blue mineral that together with hauyne, nosean and lazurite is a common constituent of lapis lazuli. A light, relatively hard yet fragile (due to the inherent cracks) mineral, sodalite is named after its sodium content. Well known for its blue color, sodalite may also be grey, yellow, green, or pink and is often mottled with white veins or patches. The more uniformly blue material is used in jewelry, where it is fashioned into cabochons and beads. That with more veining, patches and mottling is used in carving for interest. Although very similar to lazurite and lapis lazuli, sodalite is royal blue rather than ultramarine. Sodalite also rarely contains pyrite, a common inclusion in lapis. Sodalite’s poor cleavage may be seen as incipient cracks running through the stone.



Like many stones, there are imitation stones made and they are called block. Sometimes block stones are made from crushed real stones. Other times they are made from any kind of stone, then dyed. Here is an example of a block lapis ring. It is a pretty ring made with sterling silver and has the artist’s hallmark. Yet it is what it is – block denim lapis.


Block lapis ring



Besides being set as cabochons, lapis is also used to make beads which are used in Santo Domingo and Navajo necklaces.


Vintage New Old Stock Lapis and Stamped Sterling Silver Bead Necklace


Lapis Chip “rope style” necklace by the Teller family, Navajo.



Santo Domingo Lapis Necklace by Irene Lovato

  5-strand-lovato-lapis-2Lapis is a beautiful stone and if you’re like me and love blue, it is a stone for you.


To view our full list of articles or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here


If you are selling your jewelry, read this


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Temporarily Suspending the Jewelry Question Service

paula at desk 24 hours

Paula 24-7

Due to my super busy schedule and the fact that Christmas shopping has already begun, lately I have not been able to spend the time I would like on this blog.

Therefore, I am temporarily suspending the free service I provide whereby I answer questions about Native American jewelry.

I don’t want to give you false hopes that your question will be answered in short order.

I still have about 50 questions in the queue to answer so I will be working on those as I can fit it in.

Hopefully, I will resume the service after the first of next year when I can answer questions in a more timely manner.

So much to do, so little time !!


To view our full list of articles


If you are selling your jewelry, read this


Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping



What is a Native American Hallmark?

What is a Native American Hallmark?

Native American jewelry is art and as such, it is often signed by the artist. This signature is called a hallmark.

A hallmark can be a stamp, that is, an impression made into the sterling silver (or other material) by holding a die on the silver and striking the die with a hammer. Depending on the temperature of the silver, the integrity of the die, the force of the blow, the steadiness of the hands, and other factors, the resulting stamped hallmark will range from faint to deep, from fuzzy to clear.


Navajo Silversmith

Stamped hallmarks can be all types of letters in various fonts as well as pictures and symbols.

Another way Native American artists sign pieces is by using an engraver, also called and “electric pencil”.

Engraving Pen 003

“Electric Pencil” or Engraving Pen

Zuni artists use this method to write out an entire name, or at least the last name, and often Zuni, NM too. Fetish carvers use an engraver to sign their mini sculptures and depending on the size of the base, they might be initials or a full name.

In addition to individual symbol hallmarks, Shop and Guild marks are used. Shop and Guild marks (and there are many) are usually an image such as a bell (Bell Trading for example) or a sunface (a Hopi mark).

When a piece has a shop mark it is hard to identify which specific artist did the work, and in many cases, it is a collaborative effort – one person does the silversmithing, one does stone setting, another inlays etc. With shop hallmarks, it is impossible to guarantee that the work has been done by a Native American artist as shops can employ anyone.

With Guilds, however, it is almost certain that the work is Native American because membership in the guild is usually based on tribal affiliation.

Why are Native American hallmarks important?

In many cases, the hallmark on a piece of Native American jewelry is the only definitive proof that a particular item was made by a particular person. But even this is not foolproof because counterfeiters copy hallmarks onto their foreign-made, faux Native American items. The very best way to use hallmarks is in conjunction with paperwork, provenance, point of purchase, quality of workmanship and materials, the artist’s style and other factors that an experienced eye will see.

Why is it Difficult to Identify Native American Hallmarks?

Native American hallmarks are not an exact science. A number of factors make hallmark identification difficult:

1.  Several artists might use the same hallmark. For example, over 20 Native American artists have used S for their hallmark.

2.  An artist might change his or her hallmark several times during a lifetime. The late Tommy Singer, for example, has used the following hallmarks (all stamped). Perhaps there are even more:

Thomas Singer hallmark

One of Tommy Singer’s hallmarks



T with a crescent moon

S with a crescent moon

S T and a crescent moon



T. Singer

T. Singer (in cursive)

3.  Family members might use a (famous) father’s, mother’s, brother’s, uncle’s or cousin’s hallmark. As an example, you will see this in the Iule family (known for their crosses) and the Effie Calavaza family (known for Zuni Snake bracelets and other snake items).


Iule cross


EFFIE C. hallmark on a vintage bolo


This contemporary ring also has the EFFIE C. hallmark but is likely made, at least in part, by the family of Effie Calavaza.

4.  Native Americans that sell jewelry at trade shows and fairs but do not make the jewelry themselves have told us that the associations hosting the event require that all items must be authentic Native American made and hallmarked. So when we asked about some of the hallmarks on the pieces we saw, we were told “Joe XXXX doesn’t used a hallmark on his jewelry. We just put something on his pieces because we were told we had to in order to sell it at the powwow so we used this hallmark “xyz”.” True story. Names changed.

5.  Depending how well the hallmark is placed onto the silver, it may or may not be readable and could be confused with another hallmark.

6. Sometimes a piece will inadvertently not get marked. We’ve often purchased 6 similar pendants directly from an artist only to get home to see that 5 have hallmarks and one does not.

When did hallmarks first appear?

Native American artists haven’t always used hallmarks.  Early items in the First Phase period usually had no hallmarks because the items were made for personal or family use, not for sale.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s the few hallmarks that appeared were made by chisel marks

In the 1950s, the Navajo Guild, among others, encouraged hallmark use by its members.

During the Native American jewelry boom of the 1970s, hallmarks kicked into full swing and their use continues to this day on the majority of jewelry items.

And yet the bottom line is:

Many authentic Native American made pieces have no hallmarks. The majority of stone necklaces (heishi, nugget etc) do not have hallmarks. The same goes for many silver bead necklaces. However, If silver beads are large enough, sometimes the artist will stamp the last bead up by the clasp with a hallmark.


Hallmark of Virginia Tso on Navajo Pearls

Alternatively, silver and stone necklaces might have a signature plate.


Signature plate on a stone necklace.

Items like twist bracelets, for example, just do not have a flat place to add a hallmark.

half inch heavy classic twist bracelet

Classic Navajo Sterling Silver Twist Bracelet AKA the Horse Whisperer bracelet

But what’s particularly bad is that some pieces with seemingly authentic hallmarks are on pieces that are not NA made.

How can you learn about the hallmark on your piece?

BOOKS – A number of books have been written identifying stamped hallmarks. You can purchase the books or look for them in your library. Here are a few:

Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks


Hallmarks of the Southwest (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)

bartonAmerican Indian Jewelry I, II, III by Gregory and Angie Schaaf


Hopi Silver: The History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing


WEBSITES – There are also some websites that list hallmarks.  Here is one to get you started, but you can search on the internet to find more.

Indian Native American Jewelry Artists  & South West Shop Hallmarks

hallmark sample

Hallmark samples from a website

You can browse our website and use the search link at the top of most pages to search for your hallmark. If we have or have had an item with that hallmark you will be able to find it on our site.

Once you have exhausted all sources and still can not find the hallmark on your piece, you could submit it as a question through our website. In addition to the resources above, we can sift through our memories and look through our hand compiled lists to see if we can help. But, we receive quite a few questions every week so it will likely be 30-60 days before your question is answered.


To view our full list of articles or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here


If you are selling your jewelry, read this


Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping