What does “Vintage” mean in relation to Native American Jewelry?

Hi Paula,

I’m a regular shopper in your Pawn Shop and wonder what vintage means?


Hi Sue,

Webster defines the word vintage as a general term that is associated with a particular year such as a wine being of vintage 2009, for example. So in reality, it does not, in a global sense, designate any particular age, just “of an age”.

Here at Horsekeeping LLC, we have developed our own definition of vintage to describe items in our pawn shop. Here is that definition along with some other terms related to age.

Vintage – 30 years old or older, so something made in the 1980s or earlier. (However, with clothing, vintage means items made 20 years before the present day.)

NOS – New Old Stock. Made at least 20 years ago but never used.

Pre-Owned – An item of any age but that has been used.

First Phase – From 1860-1900. Read more about First Phase and Transition Period in  First Phase in Native American Jewelry

Patina – A dark or colored film of oxidation that forms naturally on metal by exposure to air and other elements. It is often valued for its aesthetically pleasing appearance. All items in our Pawn Shop, even NOS, have some patina. We leave it that way as some people like the natural patina. Otherwise sterling silver can be buffed back to a brilliant shine.

Here is another related article on the subject

Is this a rare style of Squash Blossom Necklace? Is it vintage?

Visit our pawn shop to learn more.  Paula

pawn shopBST465-625-cobblestone-spencer-1

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


First Phase vs First Phase Style

The phrase “Native American Jewelry” is often misused to describe “Native American style jewelry”.

For serious collectors, the phrase Native American Jewelry means an item made by a Native American artist.

Native American Made Cluster Bracelet by Robert and Bernice Leekya, Zuni

Native American Made Cluster Bracelet by Robert and Bernice Leekya, Zuni

For someone trying to sell a pewter cast buffalo pendant, they might call it a Native American pendant, but it is NOT !! It might be Native American style but that’s as close as it gets.

Cast Pewter Buffalo Pendant - NOT Native American Made, but could be though of as Native American STYLE

Cast Pewter Buffalo Pendant – NOT Native American Made, but could be though of as Native American STYLE

Similarly, some sellers call certain items, most notably concha belts, “First Phase” when in reality they are reproductions of First Phase items.  Read about First Phase here in my article

First Phase in Southwestern Native American Jewelry

Reproductions, whether or not they are made by a Native American artist, should not be called First Phase.  Instead, they should be called First Phase Style or First Phase Revival or Copy of First Phase or something similar. Then it should be clearly stated in the detailed description that the item is NOT from the First Phase which is generally considered to be from 1860-1900.

Is it real or is it Memorex??

Is it real or is it Memorex??


First Phase in Southwestern Native American Jewelry

The term “First Phase” is a historical term that refers to the early experimentation and development in jewelry by the southwestern Native American Indians.




It is generally though to be a period from approximately 1860-1900.

CB41-WC-turq-lg-1 CB41-WC-turq-lg-6

First Phase jewelery was made for personal use or for family or friends – it was not driven by commercial influences.




Sometimes First Phase is used to refer to the design styles from that era, so a bracelet made to look like a First Phase bracelet would be “First Phase Style” but not First Phase itself. This is an important distinction that should be used when describing items.





Between 1900-1930, tourism grew and Native American jewelry began being influenced by commercialism – what would sell. This is sometimes referred to as the Transitional Period.

To see more views of the items pictured and learn more about their estimated age, click on the photos.