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 !!


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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


Squash Blossom Necklace with Hearts

Hi Paula,

I have a squash blossom necklace made with hearts. I have searched your blog and the internet and have not found this shape. Can you help me determine if this is in fact a rare-type shape? Also, can you help me determine the type of turquoise? And, my clasp is broken, do regular jewelers repair the clasps, and the way they repair, does it make a difference or lessen the value? Like soldering vs. wiring vs.gluing?

Thank you,
20140709_143636 20140709_143651Hi Catherine,
I would interpret the design element as clouds rather than hearts.
Possibly this could be King’s Manassa turquoise but it is hard to say for certain.
As far as repairs, I would recommend that you have any repairs done by an experienced, knowledgeable jeweler that as worked on vintage Native American jewelry so that the repair would be consistent with the original piece.
We don’t do repairs here but we recommend this business for Native American jewelry repairs. They do all of the repairs for our store and we are thoroughly satisfied with their work.
Repair Contact:
Diane Radeke
Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West
4009 N. Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ  85251
To view our full list of article 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

Vintage Navajo – Sterling Silver and Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace

Tips on Choosing Mens Watch Tips Please !

Good afternoon Paula.  I’ve been looking for a nice set of tips for my Invicta watch (which is a bit glunky, but not obnoxious like some of the new watches out today):


The case is 1 ½ inches wide at its widest point, and the band size is 18mm.

Until I saw these turquoise tips, I had my heart set on solid silver with a nice pattern.


Arlene Yazzie – Navajo Sterling Silver and Turquoise Inlay Mens Watch Tips

2 questions…

1) those tips are so clean and bright, I think they would look “wrong” against the stainless case…thoughts?

2)  is the bandwidth/lug distance important for fit and “look”?


Hi John,

Thanks for your interest in our Native American watch tips.

Whether you choose all sterling silver tips or tips with turquoise or other stones is up to you. We do not advise on fashion.

That said, a brushed or satin sterling silver would more closely match the finish of your stainless steel watch, like these by Calvin Peterson:


Calvin Peterson Navajo Sterling Silver Mens Bear Paw Watch


Calvin Peterson Navajo Sterling Silver Mens Kokopelli Watch

The spacing between the lugs should be at least 1mm more that the width of the tips where they attach to the watch. That makes for a neat fit without a lot of sliding around and still leaves enough room to remove the pins should you want to.

The watch tips mentioned above and the turquoise ones you like all measure 17mm at the attachment, so they should work fine with your watch (this is a fairly standard size for men’s watch tips).


To view our full list of article 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



Elaine Sam – Navajo Sterling Silver Bear Claw Turquoise Watch Tips


Little info in Canada on Hopi hallmarks – can you help?

June 26. 2014

Hi Paula.  I hope you can help me.  I have spent hours and hours and hours trying to identify some Hopi jewellery that i bought in the 70’s. I live in Canada, and there is little help up here  identifying  South West Jewellery.  I have two silver overlay Hopi  pins, both with the same ‘signature’ on the back.  The signature is sort of like a ‘W’ .  I have searched available sites on line that list signatures, but have not found anything.  I also tried searching the images of pieces that seemed similar, and I came up with a definite similarity to a pin/pendant by Victor Coochwytewa (I should be so lucky!)

Could your recommend someone who might be able to help me with signed pottery?  I have small items by Marie G. Romero from Jemez, Gloria Gachupin from the Zia Pueblo, and a beautiful pot by Rondina Huma, Tewa.
Thank you for any help.
elain genser

Hopi kachina hallmark Hopi kachina pin (2) hopi kachina pin Hopi RoadRunner Roadrunner markHi Elain,

Thank you for your patience. As you can see, due to the volume of questions we receive, it takes about a month for a question to work its way to the top of the queue.

I know nothing about pottery, so perhaps another reader might reply to that.

Elain, you also sent photos of a bracelet. If you want to resubmit that as a separate question like you did with this pin question, I’ll put it in the queue.

Now to the hallmark on these wonderful collectible Hopi pins.

The W hallmark is actually that of a lightning bolt with two arrowheads, one on each end. There is a bit of patina there occluding the hallmark. That hallmark is of McBride Lomayestewa, a Hopi artist of the Snow Clan from the village of Shungopavi who was born in 1932.  He began work in 1956 and died in 2002.

He learned his craft at the Hopi Guild. He is brother of Mark and Clarence.

Now that you know the artist’s name you can do a search and learn more about him and see other examples of his work.

Enjoy your treasures !


To view our full list of article 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


How to Find Your Spirit Animal – Do the Internet Quizzes Work?

Every week we receive queries from customers and readers asking how to find their personal animal spirit.

No one can tell you what your spirit animal is – you will know. The animal will find you or you will find the animal. You will know.

Among other things, you can soul-search, meditate, go on a vision quest, walk in nature or a zoo or browse the fetishes in our store to help you find an animal you are drawn to.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been asked if the online quizzes will help you find your animal spirit.  To answer that, I will be the guinea pig (no, that’s not my animal spirit !) and test 9 of the more popular quizzes.

But first for a baseline, here are the animals that are aligned with me.


Horse – I’ve spent a lifetime with them


Buffalo and Owl – my mother’s animal spirits


Buffalo and Owl – my mother’s animal spirits


Eagle – my father’s animal spirit


Wolf – an animal spirit that aligned with me about ten years ago


Bear – my husband’s animal spirit

Now to the quizzes and their results. Some quizzes on line were so bad, I didn’t even include them. Here are the 9 that I tested.


My Results – The Wolf

You are typically a more nighttime-ish person, you are very intellectual and skilled in sports and other out door activities. You have a lot of friends but you sometimes are misunderstood, and feel as if no one really understands how you are and how you feel.



My results

What Is Your Animal Soulmate?

You got: A cute owl

Your animal soulmate is a cute owl.



My results

What Is Your Spirit Animal?

A three-toed tree sloth hangs from the trunk of a tree in the jungle on the bank of the Panama CanalYou got: The Sloth

You’re as cool as a cucumber, and you love to go with the flow. Your favorite activities include eating, sleeping, and eating again. Your rap name is Sir Naps-a-Lot.


The Gabby Wild Foundation – What’s Your Spirit Animal?

My results

You are the Snow Leopard!

FC350-lion-jet-begay-1Like the snow leopard, people believe that you are extraordinarily fierce. While you certainly give a certain bite and are not afraid to defend what is rightfully yours, you don’t always “roar”. In fact, the snow leopard is unable to roar. You keep yourself well-protected, as does the snow leopard. They have large paws that are completed covered in fur to keep them warm and act like snowshoes.



My Result

Your spirit animal is the Owl


Characteristics: Intuition, ability to see what other do not see, announcer of change, wisdom

Spirit Animal Profile: The owl spirit animal is emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge. If you have the owl as totem or power animal, you’re likely to have the ability to see what’s usually hidden to most. When the spirit of the animal guides you, you can the true reality and see beyond illusion and deceit.



You are a Wolverine!


Powers: Fighting ability—strength, speed, and toughness

Nobody messes with Wolverines. You’re fearless, assertive (okay, aggressive), and tenacious. You might be a Marine, or a middle linebacker. You’re the best at whatever you choose to do, because you give yourself no alternative.



What Is Your Spirit Animal?

You got: The Buffalo

The Buffalo once roamed across all of North America, and represents the sacredness of nature. Like the Buffalo, you have a wandering spirit and a deep appreciation for the blessings of the Earth. You will go far and see many wondrous things.



My results

You are a Scottish Wild Cat!




This test requires you register with an e-mail.

Your result for The What is Your Spirit Animal Test

The Grizzly Bear

Here’s your results! Your spirit animal has a Nobility ranking of 14 out of 18.

FB525-pm-laiwakete-1Your spirit animal is the Grizzly Bear. No other spirit animal matches it’s size and strength. This creature is among the noblest and most respectable, and you are truly fortunate. It is both fearsome and awesome to behold. It will serve you well, and shows that you have a deeper understanding than most. It is quite rare indeed to have a Grizzly as a spirit animal!***Wondering how this animal was chosen for you? These questions were carefully thought out to see how important you hold certain virtues such as: humanism, self-knowledge, rationalism, the love of freedom and other somewhat Hellenic ideals. Some of the questions were very subtle. Your score was then matched with an animal of corresponding nobility.



The tests were interesting, some even fun. Of the nine tests I took, here is the summary of the results:

1 wolf (my wolf animal spirit)

1 bear (my husband’s animal spirit)

2 owls and 1 buffalo (my mother’s animal spirits)

And then there were

2 felines

1 wolverine

1 sloth

So I’d call the online quizzes hit and miss.  I doubt that anyone that knows me would associate me with a sloth yet most of the others were on target or at least in the ballpark.


More info please on my Number Eight Leonard Jim piece

June 13, 2014
Hi Paula, thanks so much for your informative website and blog.  over the years i have collected a lot of native american jewelry and unfortunately i lost most of the details of each piece.  i am still looking for the excel spreadsheet i used to track the details but so far can’t find it.
about 25 years ago in Jackson, WY i purchased a turquoise pendant with the hallmark “Leonard Jim”.  i think the turquoise is Number Eight.
my question is
what is the biography of the Navajo artist Leonard Jim?
what type of turquoise is in my pendant?  how can i find out?
thanks, Jana
DSCN0561 DSCN0562Hi Jana,
Thank you for your patience. As you can see, due to the volume of questions we receive, it takes about a month for a question to work its way to the top of the queue.
Leonard Jim is a contemporary Navajo artist who is noted for mosaic, channel inlay, silver overlay, stamp work, applique jewelry and buffalo dance rattles. His favorite designs include the kokopelli, horse, pictorial and storyteller. He lives in Gallup, New Mexico. He signs his pieces with his full name as on your beautiful pendant and also as LJ.
As far as what type of turquoise? Number Eight (also #8) refers to the name of a turquoise mine near Carlin, Nevada.  You’ll see it in the top row of this map.
turquoise-mines-map-2-800wStones from that mine are typically exceptional spiderweb turquoise with the matrix ranging from golden brown to almost black, but a deep golden webbing is most characteristic. Yours certainly looks like it could be #8.
To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
If you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htmVisit our pawn shop for your research and shoppinghttp://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

Sterling Silver Navajo Sandcast Bracelet by Harrison Bitsui with a Number Eight Turquoise Cabochon