Choosing Sterling Silver Navajo Pearls

Hi Paula:
I just ordered my first necklace of Navajo Pearls,  I read everything you wrote “very” carefully. I feel that I chose well for my needs.   I am “very” small, and also (EEKKK) allergic to Sterling Silver touching my neck!   I had to have a longer set to go under a collared shirt.   I can wear SS bracelets and rings with no problem at all, but necklaces and earrings break me out in blisters nearly instantly.   I think these being smaller beads, will go with my size, and at a 20″ length, will go well under my collar.  I did fall in love with them and the fact that they are smooth seed beads and so beautiful in the pictures.  I seriously considered the 12 mm necklace that was the only one you had, but decided 12 mm was a bit large for me.
I really appreciate all the wonderful information, and am sure that once I have these, I will be back for more, and may even get “adventurous” and buy larger beads, graduated or stamped ones!   I did get all one size since I wanted to hang my pendants on these, which as you said, and is really common sense, a pendant will not hang correctly when the center bead is much larger, and that is right where said pendant should hang.  Thank you again for your kindness.

8 mm Sterling Silver Seed Beads by Lily Yazzie, Navajo

Good afternoon Elizabeth.
You’re smart starting with one you can wear over the shirt, under the collar and for pendants. Truth be told, that is one of my necklaces I wear quite a bit as I tend to wear more heishi in the summer (open collar and on my skin) and sterling beads in the fall and winter over clothing with pendants. (I also love wearing stamped graduated beads peeking out from under a collar too – kind of an understatement !)
I polished yours up extra special and included a polishing cloth so you can keep them shiny !
Let me know when you are ready to look for more if I can be of any help with answers or suggestions.

All my best and thank you very very very much for reading the information !!! I love my work and put my heart and soul into my articles and when someone finds the information useful, it makes me very happy.

Talk soon Elizabeth,

Sterling Silver Polishing Cloth

Hi Paula:
I am happy to know that you agreed with my choice, and why!  Thank you so much for polishing them up for me, and for including a polishing cloth for me to keep them shiny.  I really appreciate that special touch!   I will watch the mailbox every day for these to come, and will certainly be happy and very grateful to ask for your help in choosing my next necklace!  Thank you again.

Hi Paula:
I just received my first strand of Navajo pearls from you today, and could not be happier!!!  They are absolutely lovely, and thanks to your very informative blogs on choosing these, I chose perfectly!!   They are the right size, and also go under my collar with plenty of room left to hang a pendant on if I want to.  I am very happy with these lovely beads, and will be back for more when I “save up!!”   I am even wearing them next to my skin right now and have been for a couple of hours, and have not broken out in blisters yet!!   I have never been able to wear SS necklaces of any kind that even “touch” my skin.   So far, so good, and I will be thrilled if it turns out I am not allergic to these, although I have no idea why??   At least I did buy them long enough to still wear under a collared shirt if I do eventually break out!
Thank you for your kindness and help, and especially for keeping us informed so well that we can make the right choices!!!   I am very happy I read your detailed info so well, and that you are concerned enough to keep your customers in the loop on what they are buying.  I really appreciate that.

Stamped Graduated Navajo Peals by Betty Lee

Hi Elizabeth,
Soooooo glad to hear that !
You know Elizabeth. Maybe you are not allergic to sterling silver but to the tarnish that starts to form on it……….as you see, the beads we sent were really dazzling clean. Maybe if you keep them shiny, you will be OK!!
With my beads, I sometimes don’t even notice that they are no longer shiny as it happens so gradually but when I buff them with a cloth I am amazed at the silver sulfate that comes off !!
So that’s my theory as to why these beads are kind to your skin – they were freshly polished !
Let me know OK?
Look forward to seeing you again sometime. Enjoy !

Example of Vintage 50 Strand Liquid Silver Necklace with Gorgeous Patina

I will certainly read that article, and will also keep these new beads shiny as they are now!!   I have had other SS necklaces that were brand new, from a “very” expensive jewelry store in Knoxville, that were shiny and still broke me out!   But we will see if these are somehow different.   I did buy one pair of SS earrings on that home shopping show, QVC one time, and they are the “only” pair of SS earrings I have been able to wear.   I am wondering if some SS has some other combo of the normal metals used, in different proportions or something, and that might be the difference.   It is a real mystery as to why SS rings and bracelets do not bother me at all, ever.    I have a “Tommy Singer” all SS bracelet that I “never” take off.   I have been wearing it for years, washing dishes and showering it it too.
I will read the info you sent me very carefully, as I certainly do want to keep these beads shiny.  I do own an Oscar Alexius pendant which is “not shiny” on purpose, as he makes most of his jewelry with that “old pawn” look finish.  I have never worn it next to my skin though, so do not know if it would break me out or not.  This is the first time I have taken a chance and tried a SS necklace next to my skin in years, as the last time I did, I wore a ring of brilliant red blisters, which then turned into sores, for nearly the month it took to clear up!   I can usually tell nearly instantly, but still have your beads on, and am not even itching.   I will let you know what happens.  I certainly would love to clear up that mystery, and be able to wear both necklaces and earrings.   I just wonder what was either “not in” or “in” that one pair of SS earrings I can wear that makes them different from all others?

Hi Libby,
Well, it sure could be the “other” metals because it really varies depending on where the sterling silver is made, what is added to the silver.
As I write in Not All Silver is Equal, you’ll see that the other 7.5% is usually copper but can be any metal.
Hmmmmmmm………sounds like a good mystery for you to solve.
So glad you are enjoying the pearls !


22 thoughts on “Choosing Sterling Silver Navajo Pearls

  1. Hello, Ladies. I have also sometimes had allergic reactions to my silver and I decided some of it might be alloyed with nickel. And that’s something to which a lot of people are allergic. Like Elizabeth I can wear a lot of things without a problem and others do cause a problem. Some sand cast bracelets cause me to itch and start to get very red, actually turn into welts, and others don’t. Another issue is the histamine level in our bodies. Sometimes we’re more prone to allergic reactions than other times! I’d love to get this more in control myself. Over a year ago I had a burglary in which a lot of my gold jewelry was stolen. Not all! I went to wearing my silver almost exclusively since then, and these days with the cost of gold it seems silver is less ostentatious than gold. So I wear Native American silver every day these days, despite the issue of allergies. A few other odds and ends of comments from reading this interesting thread… Elizabeth, it’s also good to keep the necklace shiny since the tarnish will come off on your clothing. I personally like things that are tarnished and have older patina and they do get my clothing dirty. And enhancers are great for use as pendants on Navajo Pearls, so it’s fun to collect them. Great point not to try to use graduated beads for pendants. Thanks for the excellent info, Paula.


  2. Hi Linda,

    It is good to hear from you. As always, thanks for your comments.
    What do you mean by enhancers?

    I’m weaning turquoise and red today (clothing) so have a coral, turquoise and lapis inlay horseshoe by Derrick Gordon hanging from my pearls and feel like a million !

    Just love Native American sterling silver !

    Have a great one, Paula

  3. Hello, Paula! If I had the ability to post pics I would post what I’m wearing today and you could post what you’re wearing today. I bet we each could wear different things for years without repeating.

    Enhancers are pendants with bales that open at the back, so they can be slipped on and off beaded necklaces without having to have a bale that is so large that it can fit over the beads themselves. Instead the bale opens at the back so it can slip on between the beads. That way it can fit on necklaces with larger beads. A lot of them are available if you keep your eyes open. I buy and sell a lot on eBay and I’ve seen some there that are nice and am offering an odd piece there right now. In fact that reminds me I could identify the graphical hallmark and meant to ask you about it.

    Can you send me a way to upload a picture of the hallmark for you?

    Enhancers are very useful but it’s important to close the opening as much as possible after you put it on the necklace so they don’t pop off! One day I was rushing to an appt, saw the enhancer, which is a lovely mud guy by the Pintos, when I was on the bus, ran from the bus to a building about a block away, and enhancer was gone. My Navajo beads were bouncing around as I was running. Well, walking fast, actually, No enhancer. Backtracked, no enhancer. A few weeks later, fishing in my purse for something, I came up with the errant enhancer. You can be sure I have been careful to close the opening since then!


  4. Hi Linda,
    That would be fun to see what you are wearing and vice versa. I always do a morning “display” to my husband so he can check out the combinations.
    By enhancer, do you mean Shepherds Hook? Yes, those pendants that have Shepherds Hooks are great for slipping between beads and than squeezing closed once you have them on.
    You can send me a hallmark to the same email address you did before.

  5. Hi Paula and Linda:

    I was so very happy that I was not allergic to this first pair of “Navajo pearls” that I also ordered a small SS cable and a 4mm pair of SS beads from Paula last week. I wore the 4mm beads with another pendant, “against” my skin all day yesterday. NO allergic reaction at all!!! It is amazing. Today I have on the cable, since I do have some older inlay and other pieces that have very small bails. I was wearing these pendants with a white gold herringbone necklace. This cable is “great” for that type of pendant, and the small 4mm SS beads fit the bails on pendants that are somewhat larger, but are not large enough for the 9mm SS pearls to fit. So far, so good again! Paula, you must have very high quality SS! Linda, I too have several enhancers, and love them. I used to wear them on “regular” pearls, but now wear them on my SS pearls. Like you, I make sure that the enhancer is firmly closed, which was a very good point you made! I certainly do not want to lose any of my enhancers. So girls, it seems that all three pieces I have gotten from Paula, I am able to wear with no problem, all are gorgeous, and between the three necklaces I have picked, one of them will fit every pendant I have. That pendant I wore on the 4mm SS beads did not break me out either, and I had it lying right on my skin. I am thrilled about this, since like Linda, I always had to wear gold, but now can wear my favorite, NA made jewelery and SS!! Thank you so much, Paula for all your help and thank you too, Linda for your very helpful comments! I guess we are “addicted” to our SS and NA jewelry! I know I am, and will now be able to wear it all!


    • Hi Elizabeth !
      Glad you logged in here. I am SOOOOOOOO happy the pieces you bought from us are skin friendly to you. You have a nice group now to work with all of your pendants. I just couldn’t live without those cable necklaces which probably I should rename to small omegas as that is what they are – smooth braided sterling silver. But those cables are perfect for so many of my smaller pendants that wouldn’t work with anything else. I like that the end fastening loop is quite narrow so it can slip into very small bails. By the way, THANKS for using the word bail – for some reason the word bale (in association with pendants) has been misused so frequently that it now almost seems the norm, but from my ranch girl perspective……..
      bail = the handle on a milk pail – so very similar to the hanger on a pendant.
      bale = a compressed bundle of grass or alfalfa, so not the right word.
      Oh boy……..that was a side track !

  6. Hi, Paula.

    The enhancer pics I just uploaded to you is like a shepherd’s hook but they can be different shapes. I had one in gold that locked closed with a little safety thingie. So I think the important aspect is that they are pendants that have bales that are open or which do open and this allows them the versatility of being able to get on necklaces where the clasps or beads would be too large for them to slip on in the normal way.

    You’re lucky to be able to show your husband every morning. I just please myself, but I sure do that! lol


    • I got the pictures Linda and will look at them after lunch.
      About hubby, I gave him his first NA bracelet about 3 years ago and he was immediately hooked so now it is bracelets and rings for every gift giving occasion – now he wears NA jewelry every day. There is a kind of wild stunning bracelet in the store now I want to get him for Christmas but not sure if it will be “too much” so I am still debating….

  7. Hi, Elizabeth: that’s very good news about your purchases and success against the allergies. I think Paula does sell high quality things. The older things may have alloys that irritate us if we’re sensitive and also if we are prone to allergic reactions, we have a level in our blood so if there are a lot of irritants that are around us the histamine level could be raised and then we might go over the top and have a reaction to some of the silver with marginal alloys. I rarely think of taking an antihistamine but that would be the thing to do if we’re having a reaction to our jewelry. I’m very pleased you’ve done so well with the purchases from Paula. She’s impressed me as being very scrupulous and also very nice! Don’t tell her I said that, though. 🙂

    Best wishes,

    • Oh gosh Linda,
      I honestly didn’t notice until now that in your posts, you used “bale”. Yikes !
      Like I said, it is so widespread that it has almost become the norm.
      I googled it once several years ago just to see if there could possibly be a second definition that might allow bale to be used correctly, but never could and it is such a logical and good match to use bail, from my bail-handling perspective. (We don’t have dairy cows but we do have horses and there is lots of bucket toting with them.)

  8. Hi, Paula:

    The trouble with buying things for sale is that I am keeping too much when the fact is that I started selling in order to decrease the quantity of stuff I have!

    I’d love to see the bracelet you’re thinking of for your husband. I have one now that I haven’t brought myself to list yet because I am still researching the artist and because I’m not sure I can give it up. It’s a very thick heavy silver with stamping, and it’s perfect for a man as well as a woman. It was made by Randy Shorty and I’ve been trying to find out more about him. I found references to having been trained in silversmithing by him but nothing about where he is, what his tribe or background might be and I was wondering if he’s linked to Perry Shorty but so far I haven’t come up with much. I did think it would be a perfect bracelet for a man because it’s all one level so it can’t really be injured by being bashed about. No stones or thin stuff to get damaged, nothing sitting higher. I wonder if you know anything about Randy Shorty, as an aside. If so, we can start a new thread on him and I’ll send a pic of the bracelet that’s been holding my attention.


    • OK, send me that photo and we’ll start a new thread – but there are about a dozen queries in line ahead of Shorty.

      Oh, about too much stuff………let’s not talk about the paycheck I never get because I work in Native American jewelry store. Shhhhhhhhhh……..don’t tell but I have a box on one of the back shelves “Paula’s Box” where I stash things I hope to be able to afford soon. Every few weeks I pare the contents of the box. It is a great way to kind of window shop and have the vicarious thrill without the $$.

      I’m thinking of tucking the bracelet for hubby in there. But your comments about men crashing into stuff makes me wonder how long it would last before a stone would break……….hmmmmmm.

      Of to lunch ladies !


  9. Hi, Paula:

    Well, I did spell it incorrectly and I’m so happy to be corrected.

    I love horses. As a teen I had one and always wanted another but it’s not in the cards for me. I adore them and you’re so lucky to have that dream.


  10. Hi, Paula. I’d love to work in a jewelry store.

    I uploaded the Randy Shorty pictures and questions into an email to you so you can start a new thread with it whenever you have time. I think that bracelet is the sort of thing that would be perfect for him; built like a tank and beautiful, too. I’d like to find out more about the artist.

    Seems like you have a perfect life: horses and jewelry and a husband. 🙂


    • Linda,
      Saw your post. I too am looking for info on Randy Shorty. I have a silver and gold concho belt made by Randy and am trying to find a market for it.The belt has 12 rectangular conchos and a silver & gold tip. Each concho features a different ranch/western scene.I will gladly forward pictures upon request.

  11. Paula,

    I, too, am looking for information on Randy Shorty. I have a silver and gold concho belt that was given to me by my mother in the 80’s that is signed by Randy Shorty. It consists of 9 rectangular conchos (including the buckle)depicting various pottery designs. I have worn it off and on since I received it getting lots of compliments, but never really considered the artist who made it. Now I have inherited a large collection of Native American Jewelry, pottery, and rugs and have a new curiosity about the artists. Can you help me?

    Luann Crist

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