Southwest Art Defined

I was contacted a while back about permission to use one of the photos from our website in a book. I gave that permission and then forgot about it.

So I was surprised when we received a thank you note and complimentary copy of  a lovely new book “Southwest Art Defined: An Illustrated Guide” by Margaret Moore Booker and published by Rio Nuevo Publishers.

It is a beautiful 11″ x 9 1/4″ hardbound book with dust jacket. Here is what the publisher says

Southwest Art Defined, by Santa Fe author Margaret Moore Booker, is now available! This beautiful hardcover book brings the traditional arts of the Southwest are brought together in one volume for the first time. Almost 500 comprehensive descriptions of Native American and Hispano art are accompanied by 370 full-color photographs of art from museums, galleries, and private collections. Lose yourself in the stunning pottery, textiles, jewelry, carvings, and architecture of the Southwest.

southwest art defined cover

Is the Turquoise in the Heishi Necklaces Real?

Hi Paula,

I received my package today. Thank you for such a careful and professional packing, fast delivery and beautiful necklace. I do have a question. Is the tourquoise stablized and dyed or stablized but real? Is it chalk tourquoise? I am sure I will wear it to death because it is what I wanted and the price is excellent. I am just curious. Please let me know. Thanks. Shelly


Hi Shelly.

Most of your questions are answered here in an article where I try to describe all the forms of turquoise – All About Turquoise.

Most heishi turquoise is stabilized because if it wasn’t, it would be brittle and could crack. Also, when natural turquoise comes in contact with skin oils of the neck area, it would become discolored. So stabilization helps prevent that too. Some turquoise heishi is enhanced which further strengthens it and could make its color more vivid. You’ll read about these terms in that article.

When you say chalk turquoise, are you referring to “block turquoise”?  Block turquoise is a manufactured composite product, with little if any real turquoise in it. No, the turquoise heishi necklaces are not block turquoise. Most are stabilized real turquoise, some are also enhanced.


Native American Award for Valor, Courage and Bravery

Is there a Native American symbol awarded to great warriors for valor, courage, and bravery in battle much like the Silver or Bronze Stars awarded to soldiers? If not, can you make a suggestion? Thank you very much.


Hi Wess,

A Lakota friend of mine sent me this. I hope it is helpful. You can browse our feather hair ties here. Feather Hair Ties. Paula

The Spiral in Native American Jewelry and Artifacts

As Hurricane Sandy looms on the east cost of the US, I started noticing spirals everywhere.

Scott Skeets petroglyph ring


The spiral is one of the oldest symbols used by humans. It appeared thousands of years ago in southwestern Native American tribal areas on cave walls and on ancient pottery.

Spirals to the Zunis and Puebloans represent water, wind and creatures associated with water such as snails and serpents.

It also represents man’s  “ journey in search of the center”.

From Petroglyphs, Keam’s Canyon, Hopi Mesas, Arizona “It is a decoration of great frequency and consisting of single and double spirals. The single spiral is the symbol of Ho-bo-bo, the twister who manifests his power by the whirlwind. The myth explains that a stranger came among the people, when a great whirlwind blew all the vegetation from the surface of the earth and all the water from its courses. With a flint, he caught these symbols upon a rock, the etching of which is now in Keam’s Canyon. It is 17 inches long and 8 inches across. He told them he was the keeper of the breath. The whirlwind and the air which men breathe come from this keeper’s mouth.”

The spiral also symbolized a way of planting, starting at the center and moving out in circles as they planted. In Navajo it was called ha’oolmaaz

Be safe brothers and sisters.

Native American Artist and Hallmark Books

Hi Paula,

Is there some kind of publication that gives information on Navajo silversmiths similar to the publication on fetishes?

This is a family heritage that should be preserved .

Thanks.  Ruth D

Hi Ruth,

Great question. Here are the books I know of that name artists, give their hallmarks, a little bio and sometimes some examples of their work. We have many other books here on Native American jewelry but these are the ones I refer to most often to research estate and pawn items. I’m sure there are more that other readers might suggest.

Hallmarks of the Southwest
Barton Wright
9″ x 11″ hardbound book
271 pages
Has drawn hallmarks and brief bio of many Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists

Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks
Billie Hougart
9″ x 6″ paperback book
519 pages
Has photos of hallmarks and brief bios of many Navajo, Zuni and Hopi artists. Read review by clicking here


Hopi Silver: The History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing
Margaret Nickelson Wright
9 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ paperback book
147 pages
Has 73 page history with photos
The balance of the book is a Chronological Listing of Hopi Artists and Hallmarks. Hallmarks are drawn

American Indian Jewelry I: 1,200 Artist Biographies
Gregory Schaaf
11″ x 9″ hardbound book
342 pages
Highly illustrated with black and white and color photos of jewelry and artists. Bios range from a few sentences to a few pages.

American Indian Jewelry II: A-L  1,800 Artist Biographies
Gregory Schaaf
11″ x 9″ hardbound book
400 pages
Highly illustrated with mostly color photos of jewelry and artists. Bios range from a few sentences to a few pages.

American Indian Jewelry III M-Z


Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry: Artists, Traders, Guilds, and the Government
Pat Messier and Kim Messier
8.5 x 1 x 11.2 inches hardbound
144 pages

The intensive research undertaken for this valuable book properly identifies forty-five Native American silversmiths and their hallmarks found on Southwest jewelry. Most of the marks date prior to the 1970s and some as early as the 1920s, along with the marks of traders, guilds, and the government. This fascinating read also provides the stories of the artists and institutions represented by these marks. Over 275 color and black-and-white images illustrate the marks in situ on the jewelry, along with images of artists, trading posts, and guild ads. The text explains why and when these marks were used. Among the important Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblo silversmiths whose lives and artworks are explored are Grant Jenkins, Fred Peshlakai, Juan De Dios, Da-Pah, Awa Tsireh, and others. The majority of the talented Indian silversmiths represented here left their homes on the reservation in the early twentieth century to work in cities and tourist venues. The profiles presented also feature a handful of contemporary artists who are recognized as master silversmiths.



NOS – New Old Stock

We are often contacted by stores and trading posts that are closing and want to sell us their NOS – New Old Stock.

The items range from contemporary to vintage Native American items but still on the stores cards or packages.

Often they are of designs that aren’t currently available anymore and most of the time they are made of heavier sterling silver and with stones we don’t see as often any more…….so they are cool !

Even though they are not used, we put the NOS items in our pawn shop since we didn’t buy them from the artist directly and they usually are not contemporary items. So they seem to fit best in our pawn shop.

We’ve purchased some interesting inventories and collections over the last few years and I am finally listing some of it on the website.

Here are some examples of the NOS we have recently acquired:

Native American Designs Stand the Test of Time

Native American designs, garments and jewelry are always popular, with many new admirers attracted to them every day.

While other fashion trends might come and go, the meaningful Native American symbols, designs, and materials which are tied to Mother Earth and all of her creatures and cycles and powers are alluring and enduring.

Western Lifestyle Spring 2012 Issue "American Indian Fashion is Enduring Fashion"

We encourage you, whenever possible, to purchase authentic Native American jewelry and clothing made by Native American craftsmen.

In that way, you will be helping to preserve the traditions by supporting the traditionalists.