Black and Silver Bead Necklace – Help Me Identify Please

Hi Paula, a few months about I emailed pics of a necklace I owned and wanted to know if you could tell me something about it.  Hadn’t heard back and thought I would try again.  I can email photos, but the make up of the necklance is silver beads and black beads that seem to not be stone or glass.  They actually seem to be plastic.  The chain is silver along with the Sheild with feathers.  But I don’t see a mark. Thank you for any help you can offer. Eileen

Hi Eileen,

Yeah I usually run about 2 months behind on answering questions, then Christmas came and I got even behinder !

Well it is hard to say for sure from a photo, but as soon as you said plastic, I thought acoma jet because it is very lightweight and sometimes is mistaken for plastic by people who haven’t seen or handled any jet items before.  If the silver is sterling silver, I would bet the black beads are acoma jet.

If the silver is just silver tone metal, then it could be that the black beads are plastic.

The silver beads and end findings do look Native American style. The round beads look like bench made old style necklace beads.

Without seeing it in person or being able to test it for sterling and without any hallmarks, that is about the best I can do !


Native American Jewelry and Carving Materials – Jet


One store owner here in Arizona calls jet a gemstone but I’m almost sure that isn’t correct – can you tell me if I am right or not?

Thanx, Jess

Hi Jess,

Good question ! Here’s my official answer.

Jet also known as Acoma Jet

Jet is an organic fossil – a solid, durable type of lignite coal that originated from wood.

Raw Jet

The term coal means the fossilized remains of ancient organic matter that ranges from bog materials to peat to wood. Jet, however, is the fossilized remains of araucaria (coniferous evergreen) wood specifically.

Therefore jet is not a stone or a mineral. It is fossilized wood.

You’d think jet is black……as in jet black……but actually it is very very dark brown but it appears black.

It is mined around the Acoma Pueblo region of New Mexico, among other places, thus the name Acoma Jet, or Jet for short.

Polished Jet

It can be highly polished. Therefore, it is very popular for carving fetishes. Here are some examples of Zuni Fetish carvings from jet.

Jet  is also used for inlaying but not usually used in large pieces for stone sets – if you see large black “stones”, they are usually black onyx.
Here are some examples of Zuni inlay pieces using jet.