Many are drawn to the intricate, handmade designs of Native American jewelry. Sparkling silver embellished with turquoise, onyx, oyster and other earthy, polished stones seem to simultaneously demand attention and portray an air regal subtlety. With the popularity of Native American jewelry, however, has come a rise in reproductions and counterfeit pieces being sold as authentic Native American jewelry. Even those who aren't dead set on the idea of having authentic jewelry should think twice about purchasing fake, knockoff pieces. Purchasing authentic Native American jewelry not only means you're getting the quality of expertly crafted, handmade items, but also helping to support the Native American artists and jewelers who work hard to produce the pieces we've all come to love. Buying fake, mass-produced pieces of jewelry undermines the artistry that makes Native American jewelry so unique.
When buying Native American jewelry, knowing how to spot reproductions can be tricky, especially when buying online. There are a few things, specifically, that you should look for before making your purchase. The first, and possibly the easiest, is to search for similar pieces to the one you want to buy. Authentic Native American jewelry won't have exact replicas, since each piece is handmade. While there may be many similarities in a piece, the marbling of the stone and other small details will differ between unique pieces. Another big red flag is finding many identical items for sale by the same seller. If you find a ring online, for example, and notice the seller has 50 of them for sale, you should question the authenticity. Native American jewelers rarely produce bulk quantities, so large lots of identical items are almost guaranteed to be fake. Also, keep in mind that adding patina or oxidization to silver is a very simple process, so never assume that a piece is old or antique simply based on the amount of patina present.
Before making your purchase, don't be afraid to ask the seller some important questions. Ask which tribe produced the piece, and what the artist's name is, for starters. A reliable seller should have this information readily available. If not, ask where they obtained the piece and what work they have done to authenticate the jewelry. Reputable sellers who acquire pieces through estate sales or other means will make an honest effort to trace the piece back to its origin in order to provide the most accurate description possible. Federal law prohibits sellers from making false claims about the jewelry they sell, so ask the seller outright whether the piece is authentic Native American jewelry. If they hedge or otherwise deflect your questions in order to avoid saying the piece is authentic, your best bet is to find another piece from a more reputable seller.