How do I preserve and protect my bear claw pendant?

Hi Paula,

I have a hanging bear claw pendant. The exact same type as on your site. I received it as a gift. It is amazing. I have had for about a year though and the claw is drying out and cracking/chipping.  What can I do to preserve/restore it?  Thanks.


20140414_140515 20140414_140558 20140414_140609Hi Scott,

Your claw shows natural surface lines and texture which I think is appealing as is. If you think it is getting dry or brittle, however, and you think it might crack, you could consider applying a light, and I mean light, coat of hoof dressing to it. The tiniest dab rubbed in thoroughly. You could use a Q tip to get up into the crevices. Another substance you could use would be bag balm which is basically lanolin. Again, the tiniest amount and lots of rubbing. It is possible that Vaseline (petroleum jelly) might also work.  Whatever substance you choose, use very little, rub it in thoroughly, then wipe it.  You might want to do a few applications over several days before you get it to the state you want.


Some of the silversmiths buff and polish the claws and put a light layer of “clear coat” on the claws which protect them and make them shine. You could also use clear nail polish. But do realize if you choose this method of preservation, it will make the claw shiny and if you decide you don’t like it, you will have to use a solvent like nail polish remover to take it off……and that would further dry out the claw. So go down that path with caution.


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Can I wear this inlay ring to do dishes and shower without worry?

Hi Paula,

Can I wear this ring to do dishes and shower with out worry
Thanks Daniel

NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-A3-400w NR448-AB-inlay-masonic-concho-B3-400w

Dear Daniel,


PR708-WB-owl-kallestewa-1No, you would have to worry big time. Inlay items are made of many small pieces of stone and shell that are affixed to a backing and to each other. Getting inlay wet such as in a dishpan or shower would allow water to get under the inlay and loosen it. It is NOT a good idea.

Inlay, properly cared for, will last decades as shown by the many wonderful pawn and estate lot pieces we receive. But any inlay, old or new, should be treated with respect and common sense.


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


Are you supposed to polish Navajo Pearls?

Hi Paula,

I was looking at the stamped Navajo pearl necklaces and began to wonder – How do you polish these necklaces or are you supposed to polish these necklaces?

Thanks   Pamela

Stamped Navajo Pearls by Larry Pinto

Stamped Navajo Pearls by Larry Pinto

Hi Pamela,
It is a matter of personal preference. If you like patina, no polishing necessary.That’s why we leave the beads in our pawn shop as is – so the buyer can decide.
A lot of people prefer patina………and to satisfy those customers, Navajo bead makers also put an “instant patina” on their beads by adding a satin finish and antiquing on some of their beads such as this gorgeous necklace by Navajo Virginia Tso.
Antiqued Navajo Pearls by Virginia Tso
If you like shiny, you can use a soft silver polishing cloth. Leaving a little patina in the stamped portions just makes the stamping stand out more dramatically. Very pretty.
You can also keep them in an anti tarnish pouch if you want them to stay shiny.

How do I get the artist’s name off the back of my collar?

Hello Paula,
Do you have any suggestions for removing the price and artist’s name written
in ink from the inside of the sterling silver collar that we just received. We are not
having any luck. Thank you.

COL75-plain-tahe-2Hi Sandra,

Whoops !!  First of all, so sorry we missed removing the name from your collar. I know it must seem odd but it is normal operating procedure with Native American made jewelry to write the price and sometimes the artist’s name on the back of a pendant, bracelet, and in your case, a collar.  Usually a black sharpie pen is used which is pretty hard to rub off. Some artists and sellers even put a small coat of clear nail polish on the sterling silver and then write on that and/or put a coat of clear nail polish over what they have written.

Anyway, to make a long story short, here we use acetone or regular nail polish remover to take off the marker.  You can also use non-acetone polish remover – it will still work but take a bit longer.

Again sorry, that must have been during the holidays when we were wild people.


A reminder about jewelry polishing cloths

We sell polishing cloths that can be used to restore and maintain the shine on your sterling silver jewelry.

AT38-pouch-silverblue-300w OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis enclosure that came with one of the cloths is a good reminder of what such cloths are designed to be used on…………and what they should NOT be used on.



Black on the inside of a bracelet I bought in November

My name is Regina

I bought a cuff bracelet for Christmas it has turned black on the inside on one end, when we cleaned it with silver cleaner some of it came off but you can still see where it was, the black around the inlay on the front is coming off. My husband loves this bracelet and wears it all the time. He works in a office so it did not get damaged at work plus he is partial handicapped so he is not really active at home so we can not figure this out. It just occurred in the past few days. Please tell me I have something that can be done I paid 400.00 dollars for this bracelet. Regina

NBS327-lg-gold-bill-1 NBS327-lg-gold-bill-3 NBS327-lg-gold-bill-4

Hi Regina,

What you describe are normal signs of wear for a sterling silver bracelet that someone has used for over 7 months. (purchased Nov 2, 2012)

Black on the inside is natural tarnish of sterling silver caused by contact with air, skin oils, soap, lotions, and other elements. We suggest keeping the bracelet clean and using a polishing cloth on a regular basis rather than let the tarnish build up. We discourage the use of silver cleaner.

Here is the polishing cloth we recommend


The black is not inlay, but an oxidization of the sterling silver for accent.  It might have been your use of silver cleaner that took off some of the black on the front.

Read all about sterling silver care and cleaning here under the category Materials…..scroll down to Silver.

Here for example is one article – there are a number of others.

Best of luck,

Dear Paula,

Thank you very much for the information and your help !!
Respectfully yours

Repair of my Beloved Chester Mahooty Inlay Bracelet

I received a beautiful old bracelet years ago and sadly one day a piece of inlay disappeared.  I was nervous about shipping the bracelet to someone to fix………that is until I met Diane Radeke (see contact info at the end of the article.)

Here is my personal repair story with a happy happy ending.

Hi Diane,

I have a special inlay bracelet that is missing one piece of inlay which I think might be ivory – cream colored, not white. What do you think? What would it cost to repair this one? Paula

Chester Mahooty bracelet with missing inlay piece.

Hi Paula,

You’re bracelet is so unusual – I just love it! We usually charge about $20 to replace 1 missing stone. But there are many factors that affect that price:

size  – a big stone costs more

type – rare stones like red coral or Bisbee turquoise cost more

number of stones being replaced – 10 needlepoint stones in the same piece might cost only $15 per stone

whether the customer still has the original stone – that might only be $10 for resetting

whether or not any additional work needs to be done in order to repair the setting.

That’s why we always like to examine a piece before giving a firm quote. Of course there is also the shipping charges back and forth that a customer needs to pay.

For your piece, we don’t have ivory, and I’m not sure we could get it. There are, however, some shells that have a creamy appearance and might work nicely in this instance. I believe we also have a white coral that has that creamier appearance, without going into the orange tones. If you can get a piece of ivory, we can cut it and set it. I can see that your center coral has a little issue, too. If it’s not uneven on the surface, it might not be a problem, but if you’d want us to replace that, it would be $25 (red coral is expensive, but we do use the real thing – not dyed).

Hi again Diane,

The bracelet is a 1960s or early 1970s Zuni inlay cuff by the late Chester Mahooty.

On the bracelet, the only thing I want done is to have the one cream piece of missing inlay replaced. Maybe it was ivory (I think ivory was still available at the time he made this as was the tortoise shell that is also in the piece). Since ivory isn’t an option, you suggested using a similar ivory colored shell to match the piece on the opposite side? You’ll see he used cream and white inlay but it is the cream piece that is missing.

I do not want the chipped red coral circle at the top of his tail repaired– just leave it as is. And please don’t buff or polish the piece. I want to keep the patina as is. (See my recent post about cleaning vintage jewelry.)

Hi Paula,

Your bracelet arrived here safe and sound.

First, I feel very clear on what you want for your bracelet, which is a beauty! I love the stamped sides. We will do our best to match with something. The guys are willing to look through their personal stashes to see what they can come up with. Henry will do the inlay a little differently to avoid any errant polishing. They usually would grind the surface of the stone after setting it into the bracelet, but he will cut and finish the stone completely out of the setting, then glue it in. The stone will be a little thinner (depth-wise, but you won’t see it) than doing it the regular way, but this will ensure that the bracelet never gets near the grinder. I do need to mention that there is a crack in the bird’s head, kind of through his eye and cheek, another crack in the turquoise chest, the chip previously mentioned in the coral belly, and a couple of other teeny tiny chips and cracks. Nothing unusual nor in need of repair – I just like to mention these things before it goes back into the shop so you’re aware. I’ll have the guys alert me if they see any weak settings, but I don’t believe they will. The rest of the settings look very good to me.

Fitting the stone

Hi Diane !!!

I received my bracelet and I am so happy. Thank you so much for your good care and Henry’s excellent work !  I have more items to send you. Paula

Here is the contact for the silversmith that did the work on my bracelet and who we use for all the repairs in our store:
Diane Radeke
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078