Buying American Indian jewelry & crafts can be fun, exciting and confusing. Whether you're considering a gift of American Indian jewelry & crafts for someone special or as a treat for yourself, take some time to learn the terms used in the industry. Here's some information to help you get the best quality American Indian jewelry & crafts for your money, whether you're shopping in a traditional brick and mortar store or online.
Whether you're drawn to the beauty of turquoise and silver jewelry or the earth tones of Indian pottery, some information about American Indian arts and crafts can help you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous retailers are selling imitation American Indian arts and crafts to unwary consumers.
According to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, any item produced after 1935 that is marketed as "Indian," "Native American" or "Alaska Native" must have been made by a member of a state or federally-recognized tribe or a certified Indian artisan. That is a non-member Indian artisan who is certified by the governing body of an Indian tribe.
3 Tips for Buying Genuine American Indian Jewelry & Crafts
1. Buy from an established dealer who gives a written guarantee or written verification of authenticity. Ask if your item comes with a certification tag. Not all authentic Indian arts and crafts carry this tag, but those that do are certified by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to be genuine. This sample tag identifies the artisan as a member of the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative. However, you may see a different name and logo appearing in the circle on the item you buy.
2. Get a receipt that includes information about the value of your purchase and any verbal representations by the salesperson. For example, if the salesperson tells you that the piece of jewelry you're buying is sterling silver and natural turquoise and was handmade by an American Indian artisan, make sure this information is documented on your receipt.
3. Before buying American Indian arts and crafts at powwows, annual fairs, juried competitions, and other events, check the event requirements for information about the authenticity of the products for sale. Many events list their requirements in newspaper ads, promotional flyers and printed programs. If the event organizers don't say anything about the authenticity of the American Indian arts and crafts for sale, get written verification for any item you buy that is sold as authentic.