Native American Jewelry Marks And Identification

By Gemexi Team | Jewelry
  • Updated On Apr 10, 2023
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Native American Jewelry Marks And Identification

Native American Jewelry can be truly referred to as one of the top popular adornment items of ancient times. But the most pleasing fact about this stunning jewelry is that it has not lost its charm even today! In fact, the attraction and demand for this jewelry has increased significantly over all these years. While many wear this jewelry for an astonishing look, others buy this jewelry as a collectible. Be it any reason behind the buying of this jewelry, the truth remains the same – the Native American jewelry looks brilliant with its vibrant colorful look and unique designs. If you are in love with this jewelry, you must understand this popular jewelry closely. Knowing a bit more about it will not only help you identify the jewelry properly but will also help you shop for authentic pieces by equipping you with the ability to distinguish between fake and authentic jewelry pieces. 

The Idea of Jewelry Marks in Native American Jewelry

It is worth mentioning that Native American Jewelry comes with some distinguished features that can help you identify it with ease.  You must have surely noticed the wide range of this jewelry comprises beautiful and unique designs. However, many of us do not know that different patterns and designs belong to different tribes. Knowing about certain basic tips will help you identify and differentiate between the Zuni, Hopi and Navajo jewelry.

While shopping for this attractive jewelry, you must have definitely noticed certain marks upon it. Let us tell you that these marks were found on the jewelry pieces even during the old times. The trend of engraving marks existed in the initial trends of jewelry. However, it became more popular with time. It was in the late years of 1970s, when the Native American jewelry range started showing almost all pieces with specific marks. 

How Can You Check & Identify Marks in Native American Jewelry?

The marks consisted of letters or alphabets which were mostly the initials of the jewelry artists. However, the chief tribes ensured having their own styles in the jewelry marking.
  1. Navajo jewelry with alphabetical marks – The Navajo Native American Jewelry often contains a series of alphabets that signify the name of the jewelry artist.
  2. Hopi jewelry with particular symbols – It is quite obvious that the alphabetical initials can be quite similar, meaning two artists can have the same initials and that might lead to confusion. Hence, the Hopi people decided to have certain specific symbols and they used those symbols for marking their jewelry. Today, when you see specific symbols on your favorite Native American jewelry pieces you can conclude that it has been created particularly by the Hopi tribe.
  3. Zuni jewelry with the soldered pen – When you discover a soldered pen as a marking on your Native American jewelry you can doubtlessly say that it is designed and created by the Zuni jewelry artists. 
As time moved on and the Native American jewelry became quite popular, the jewelry artists started preferring the method of engraving whole names on the jewelry as this completely diminishes any chances of confusion.

Identify the Native American Jewelry through Silverwork

Silverwork has played a great role in the design and appeal of Native American jewelry. While the Native American jewelry artists initially experimented and created their jewelry using just shells, stones, turquoise and other natural elements, the significant value to this jewelry range got added with the inclusion of silver. The Native American jewelry artists soon gathered an expertise in working with silver and became proficient at the same. In a nutshell, looking carefully at the silverwork in any Native American jewelry piece can let you know about its authenticity and originality. 
  1. Checking the jewelry for Navajo origin through silverwork - Quite often, silver is used in making the Native American jewels.  Silver is used creatively by the Navajo people for surrounding the stones. If you find so in your chosen jewelry, you can immediately understand that the jewelry has Navajo origin. 
  2. Checking the jewelry for Zuni origin through silverwork - Sometimes the designs of this jewelry range will contain perfectly cut stones that fit flawlessly in the silver design. If you discover so, you should know that the jewelry has Zuni origin. 
  3. Checking the jewelry for Hopi origin through silverwork - To identify the Native American jewelry having Hopi origin, you should look for slightly elevated patterns in silver. 

Check for the Stonework to Know About the Origin of Your Native American Jewelry

Stonework is also a great idea to know about the origin of this jewelry. The popular Native American tribes like Zuni, Hopi and Navajo had their own original and unique ways to use stones in a creative style in designing the jewelry. Thus, you can take a look closely at the size as well as pattern or design of the stone to get an idea about its origin. Take a look at the simple tips mentioned below that will help you identify your jewelry and will provide a glimpse about its origin too. 
  1. The Navajo stonework – Look carefully at your jewelry. Do you notice a lot of silverworks in it? Does your jewelry piece contain chunky stone with no specific shapes? If so, there are high probabilities that your jewelry has Navajo origin!
  2. The Zuni stonework – The jewelry with Zuni origin will show awesome stonework. Be it the perfectly cut stones, innovative pattern done with a single stone or group of stones or skilfully created inlays of stone, you will find all this in the Native American jewelry with a Zuni origin. 
  3. The Hopi origin jewelry with no stonework – Yes! You read it correct! In case, you come across a jewelry piece that catches your attention instantly with marvelous silverwork with absence of any stonework then you might be looking at jewelry with Hopi origin. As mentioned earlier, the Hopi jewelry artists are masters of beautiful silverwork and they create the same using unique patterns in raised silver style. 
It is also important to remember that the jewelry with animal engravings may have the Zuni origin as Zuni people often create charms, jewelry and adornments withy animal symbols that are believed to bring fortune, talent, fortification and more to the wearer. 

Important Tips to Shop Authentic Native American Jewelry

We strongly believe that the tips mentioned above will help you identify and know about the origin of your chosen Native American jewelry pieces in the correct way. Make sure to remember and follow these tips while planning to buy your favorite jewelry. Nonetheless, it is important to mention that you may also come across the imitation jewelry, that is, the jewelry that might look like Native American jewelry but in reality, it could be fake! Hence, it is best to equip yourself with certain tips that will help you search and shop the authentic jewelry. Check some of the important tips below:
  1. Check the silver in your jewelry – As you must have absolutely understood now, silver plays a great role in Native American jewelry. While the original and authentic pieces in this jewelry range contain silver, the fake pieces can have silver plated designs. To test the same, you can use a magnet. If the magnet gets attracted to the jewelry piece, you may conclude clearly that it is silver plated/coated as it contains some amount of nickel. On the contrary, if it is silver only, the magnet will not get attracted towards your jewelry piece.
  2. Check the stones – Look at your jewelry carefully. Check whether it contains stones of uniform size. If it has perfectly cut stones with similar size, it might be fake. Also, make sure that your jewelry does not have any visible appearance of glue. 
  3. No two pieces are alike – The Native American jewelry artists create each piece with passion, dedication and creativity. They showcase and offer handmade pieces and hence, no two pieces can be alike. Thus, while you plan to shop for the Native American jewelry, you may want to take a look at the inventory of the seller or artist. Finding a hundred percent similar piece is not possible just as we mentioned now.
Take care of all above tips and ensure buying high quality and authentic Native American jewelry to get all the charm and feel of this original and unique jewelry. The most important fact that we all must remember while shopping for our favorite jewelry is that we must choose authentic destinations and sellers. Gemexi is your one-stop online store where you can shop for original gemstones and jewelry. From a wide range of jewelry to rich collections of natural gemstones, you will discover a wealth of gems and jewelry here. You would surely want to take a look at the diverse and rich range of options available in the Native American jewelry range at Gemexi. So what are you waiting for? Just explore the store today and check out the vivid, vibrant and beautiful collections of all types of jewelry!

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