Vintage is 30 years old or older, so something made in the early 1980s or before.
I just bought a stacked fetish necklace the other day and was wondering how I could figure out if it authentic or not. All the shop owner could tell me that it was Zuni but had no info on the artist or materials used so I was a little hesitant to purchase it but it it was so gorgeous I had to! Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks
Fetish necklaces are carved by both Zuni and Navajo carvers. I’ve found that authentic Zuni made fetish necklaces are about 5 times the price of a similar one made by a Navajo carver.
There are also many fetish necklaces that are NOT Native American made, most from outside the US.
The time to find out about an item of Native American jewelry is at the time of purchase. If you purchase directly from the artist, you have the opportunity to ask about materials and why the artist uses a particular animal as the pendant drop for example.
If you are buying from a merchant who says “This is Zuni, but I don’t know who made it” my first reaction is “Then how do you know it is Zuni and where did YOU get it ? Apparently not from the artist directly.
Especially with a Zuni necklace which would be quite costly, the seller should know the maker. If this was a vintage piece, I could see where the seller might not know who made the piece, but yours looks very contemporary.
To ask me, after the fact, from a photo, if it is authentic, well, I am just going to give you my initial reaction.
You don’t show the whole necklace but I assume that is a squaw wrap treatment – that is a plus.
But the animals themselves, I don’t recognize that style and it certainly doesn’t look like Zuni work.
I could be mistaken but I suspect this might be a non-Native American made necklace.
Use this quick way to search on eBay which may or may not tell you more. In the search box, type “stacked fetish necklace” then when the search results come up, over to the right you’ll see the word “Advanced”. Click on that and then click on “Sold listings” under the Search Including category. Then click the Search button. That will populate a list with photos you can look at to compare to your necklace and you will see what each sold for.
I hope others that read the blog might chime in !!
You can browse our fetish necklace section; the majority of ours are by Navajo carvers.
I got this necklace in the 60s been in a storage box for 40 years, any idea what it is or who made it or what it would be worth if I sold it. Thanks Paul
This is a unique necklace as I have not seen anything quite like it. A combination of heishi, claws and a turquoise pendant. When you say you “got” it in the 60′s, how did you get it? From whom and where? That often helps.
The heishi looks handmade and like either acoma jet or dark shell (maybe olive shell) with some turquoise mixed in. Its hard to tell from the photos but it looks like there are some (deeply tarnished) silver heishi beads mixed in there too. Are there? The beads and cones on the ends look appropriate for a Navajo made piece – could be sterling silver with 40 years of tarnish.
The claws are meant to represent Bear Claws. Whether they are real or faux claws, I can not tell from a photo. The hot pin prick is really the only way to tell – the smell is quite distinct between a real claw (if you’ve ever smelled burning tooth or bone or even branding of cattle or horses – its something like that) and a faux claw (a more acrid, sharp smoke – think burning plastic).
The treatment of the claws is very unique – the two side claws with their silver caps and added into the heishi. Very interesting treatment. But the crowning achievement is the way the three claws are affixed to the bottom edge of the pendant – see best when viewing the back of the pendant. – that took some thought and skill.
The setting around the turquoise stone is unusual (i.e. not traditional NA), looks free form handmade. The stone is very blue for being 40+ years old but life in a box might explain that.
Does this test positive for sterling silver? In some of the photos it looks like it is, and other not so much.
As far as the hallmark, although there are many hallmarks using similar arrows, most have either another symbol or initials along with the arrow. In one hallmark book, there is a drawing of this arrow in the “Unidentified” section. So perhaps someone who reads this blog might have an idea, but I do not.
As to what it is, I’d call it a Bear Claw Necklace, whether or not they are real, that is the style.
Is it Native American made? It is definitely made in a Native American style but with a very unusual combination of elements. The hallmark leads one to think it was Native American made, but until the hallmark is identified, one can’t be sure if it was Native American made and if so, by whom.
As far as its worth, I wouldn’t hazard a guess from photos. If I had it in hand I could give you an idea.
We’re camping this summer while our house is being built. That puts us very much in touch with nature AND we are sleeping in new surroundings. I’ve been wearing my ghost beads and hanging them over our bed. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh……….
Are they Juniper or Cedar Berries?
Juniper berries have long been a Navajo medicine for treating such things as diabetes. Juniper berries (seeds) are also used to make ghost bead necklaces. Juniper is a broad category of trees, some of which have common names that include “cedar”, such as “red cedar” that is widely used to make boxes and line drawers. This can be confusing because a true cedar tree comes from a different family of trees. So you will see ghost beads referred to being made from cedar seeds, juniper seeds or juniper/cedar seeds. If you want to be technically correct, they should be called juniper seeds or berries.
A traditional Pueblo jewelry adornment, a jacla is two loops of heishi that were originally earrings and sometimes fastened to the bottom of a stone necklace as a pendant-like attachment.
Jacla is Navajo for “ear string”. The Navajo spelling is the most commonly used version of the word. Jocla is also common but jackla is a phonetic mis-spelling. Although jaclas are attributed to the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians, they were traded with other tribes so have become associated with the Navajo as well. They are seen in vintage photos being worn by members of all southwest tribes, both men and women.
In the oldest style necklaces, the jacla is a pair of loop earrings tied onto the necklace.
I can picture a pre-European-contact Rio Grande Puebloan taking his or her jewelry off and storing it that way. And sometimes when not wanting to wear earrings, just leaving the jacla on the necklace as a pendant.
The jacla might match the necklace it is attached to or be of contrasting heishi. Most jaclas have tabular pieces in the bottom center that are called “corn”. They are most often made from white or orange (spiny oyster) shell or coral. According to Mark Bahti, author of Collecting Southwestern Native American jewelery, jaclas with spiny oyster shell corn are rarely seen and highly prized by many Indians.
The tips of the jacla loops are traditionally finished off with coral, a contrasting shell or trade beads, often red.
In the early 20th century, jaclas started to be incorporated into part of the necklace, so this necklace would have likely been made after 1920, likely in the 50s.
Contemporary artists use the jacla design in many ways such as this block turquoise jacla necklace with spiny oyster corn.
And here’s one in very fine heishi from Santo Domingo artist Paul Tenorio
Loop earrings are basically a miniature version of a jacla – they are made with and without corn.
I am looking for a SMALL squash blossom necklace or choker, ideally WITHOUT the large naja central pendant. I am also interested in matching earrings.
Here are a few ideas.
Here is one that is 18″ long and what I would call a miniature squash blossom necklace by Zuni artist Lorena Peina and it does have matching earrings.
This lapis squash blossom necklace is medium in size and 19″ in length and also has matching earrings.
I am trying to find out any information about the two necklaces in the attached photo, like which Native American tribe may have made them (if they are indeed genuinely made by a Native American). It seems like you may be quite knowledgable about these things so if you have any ideas I’d love to hear them!
Thank you. I am very interested and immersed in my work so I have gathered some knowledge about Native American jewelry over the years but there is so much more to know. That’s why I like to post these questions here on this blog to attract comments from others.
The necklace on the right certainly seems like it could be Navajo made. It has the look of a sterling silver necklace, simple but similar in layout to a squash blossom necklace. When I enlarge the photo, the beads seem to be hand made, not bench beads. It is a very nice necklace which I feel pretty certain would have been Navajo made.
The necklace on the left however, although very attractive, does not seem to be Native American made. The first thing that caught my eye was the brass beads which say India to me. The horizontal brass spacers between the brass beads are also not a design element associated with Native American jewelry. It seems the long dark beads and the shorter tube beads are made from horn or bone, again something I’d tend to associate with India or Africa. The rondelle beads which make up the majority of the necklace also could be bone……or perhaps they and the shorter tube beads are some sort of ivory. These things are hard to tell from a single photo.
Of course, many things can be determined definitively when viewing an item in person – using one photo is just guesswork.
It will be interesting to see what other readers think.
Did you ever wonder why there are so many Native American jewelry items from the late 1960s and early 1970s?
Those were the times of peace and love, alternative dress, hippies, movie stars going wild and a big publicity boost for Native American jewelry from Arizona Highways magazine and other publications.
Although many celebrities began wearing Native American jewelry in the late 60s and early 70s, perhaps two of the most influential were Jim Morrison of the Doors and Cher.
During the late 1960s when the Doors were at the height of their fame, Jim Morrison bought a concho belt from Wayne and Irma Bailey when they were traveling in California. Joe H. Quintana (1915-1991), a Cochiti Pueblo master silversmith was the maker of this famous belt. Quintana likely made the belt in 1966 or 1967 when he worked for Irma Bailey’s Indian Art & Pawn on the Old Town Plaza in Albuquerque.
Cher (Cherilyn Sarkisian of Armenian, Irish, German, English and Cherokee descent) has used Native American jewelry and accents throughout her career from 1965 and has had a dramatic influence on fashion. Her album Half Breed was release in 1973.
As a result of such publicity, everyone wanted some of the action !!
One of the most popular items made in the 1970s were squash blossom necklaces. There was a huge demand for them. It is also one of the most common vintage items offered to us today. The retail price of a squash blossom necklace during the early 1970s boom was the same or higher than the same item today. And often they were full size, heavy and ornate, something that doesn’t sell well today because a good number of people would rather wear than collect Native American jewelry.
During the boom some beautiful items were made. However, to cash in on the demand, some shops and silversmiths cranked out the items, sometimes with inferior workmanship and maybe the work wasn’t even done by Native American artists.
One thing that wasn’t skimped on was the sterling silver. Silver was only $1.29 per ounce when Jim Morrison’s belt was made in 1966. Today silver is trading at $27.27 per ounce. Read more about silver prices here. How Silver Price Affects the Value of Native American Jewelry
Back in the late 1960s there was ample US mined turquoise around to fill needs but as demand rose, Persian turquoise began to be imported from Iran. In the 1970s a one carat U.S. turquoise stone would be considered expensive at $1. Today some of the more sought-after U.S. turquoise can cost up to $100 per carat.
Because of the great demand, the 1970s experienced the first BIG influx of imported copies and reproductions which gave some people the idea that Native American jewelry was chintzy and poorly made.
The boom crashed about the mid seventies when the fashion cycle started changing and the silver price started rising, hitting an artificially inflated high near $50 per ounce in the late seventies.
When buying heishi necklaces, first you need to know how the artist or seller measures their heishi necklaces.
Many heishi makers sell their heishi by length of material used, so 19″ of turquoise heishi might be sold as 19″ …………but with a hook and eye and the bit of slack incorporated in the necklace to make it hang right, the actual necklace wearing length might be closer to 19 3/4″.
For chokers especially, each of us has a particular length we like to wear that suits our physique and clothing necklines. That’s when measurement become particularly important.
Here at horsekeeping, we measure from the tip of the hook to the eye on the other end. That represents the actual end-to-end wearing length.
This results in most thin to medium heishi fitting well……..
but when you are purchasing very thick heishi, necklaces that are 3/8″ thick or more, you should compensate and purchase a necklace that is 1/4″ to 3/4″ longer than your usual length. That’s because the thicker heishi sits away from your neck so some of the end-to-end length is taken up to make the circle around your neck.
The same principle applies to Navajo Pearls. If you wear an 18″ 4mm silver bead necklace, when buying a 14 mm necklace, you might need almost a 19″ long if you want it to sit in the same place on your neckline.
We provide measurements. The best way to get a good fit is to measure a similar necklace you already have that fits you well and compare it to the measurements indicated for the item.
Here’s to beautiful, well-fitting heishi !