Are these items even Native American made?

Hi Paula
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!
Kind regards

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Hi Heidi,

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.


6 thoughts on “Are these items even Native American made?

  1. The necklace on the right looks like Zuni work, very old, before they made more modern pieces. I particularly point to the half dome, dapped silver beads, and the squash blossoms, less refined than more modern Zuni work I think. It might be Navajo but old, too.

    The other necklace looks like plains Indian work, not Pawnee but something more primitive with bird bones and things like that. Native Americans had copper and brass, and even nickle silver, from trade some time ago. I’d be very interested to see more of these if I can find them on the web anywhere.

  2. Hi Paula!
    I showed this picture to our silversmiths, and we all agree with your assessment of the necklace on the left. The piece on the right appears to us, from the photo, to be made of cast pieces, rather than handmade. We’re curious if there is a hallmark of any kind, or if the piece has been tested for Sterling. It is the style that the Navajo would make, but whether or not it was made by or even strung by a tribal member is impossible to tell from the photo. That would be our best guess. They are both attractive pieces, though. I’d wear them!

      • We couldn’t zoom in, unfortunately. We’re looking at the very uniform size and shape of the beads and the fans overall. All the lines and sizes look perfectly matched. The pendant also looks cast – again, the lines are perfect, and some appear to go under the bezel cup. That wouldn’t normally be done on a handmade piece. The long lines should look just a touch choppier – they’re very clean and long with slightly rounded edges. Again, from this photo we’re not sure, but that’s what we’re seeing. If the piece were in our hands, we’d be able to make a much more complete assessment. It kind of looks like something that Bell Trading would have made (I like the lightening bolt arrows!) but I was unable to find any evidence that they ever made necklaces of this size.

      • Although that is all I got from the person who owns the necklaces, no hallmark or back side shots, I am going to put crop and enlarge and add some closeups on this post.

        Would you take a peek at that green bracelet in the previous post?

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