Is honesty in the Native American jewelry business diminishing? Do you know what the origin of your jewelry is and what it is really made of? Here at Palms, we strive daily to give accurate and truthful information about the Native American art we buy and sell.
For years now, misrepresentation has become a distressing issue in the Native American art, and particularly, jewelry, business. Many suppliers either “aren’t sure” or are “stretching the truth” about the items they carry and sell to the general public, as well as to other dealers. Although it is against the law, per the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, to misrepresent items that are non-native made as Native made, the problem persists.
It seems that plenty of “southwest style” and “Indian style” or “Native American style” jewelry, manufactured both domestically and overseas has flooded the market. In more recent years, items are being advertised as “Navajo made” or “Native American made” even though imitation stones and other jewelry supplies are purchased cheaply, often from other countries, but are assembled, not handmade, by a person possibly of Native American origin. If you are not listening carefully, or aren’t savvy, the purchase you thought to be Native American made might actually be non-native.
There are an incredible amount of imitations out there. With today’s technology perfecting imitations, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the real deal from the fake, and it’s very easy for the untrained eye to fall prey to the unscrupulous. Moreover, the terms “turquoise” and “coral” are starting to be used more and more as a description of color, rather than identifying what nature actually created and what went into your special piece of jewelry.
Palms always strives to be the leader in the Native American art market. We recognize and take seriously the importance of trust in knowing not only that your purchases are Native made, but which craftsman made each piece. Our experienced staff, with many years of dealing with Native crafts, will always tell you, to the very best of our knowledge, the truth. In fact, just a few short years ago, we pulled our entire inventory of what we were led to believe were turquoise heishi necklaces when a customer called to tell us she was wearing hers while curling her hair, and it melted. The artist had told us for years the turquoise he used was real, and we no longer do business with said artist.
In another example, in today’s world market, raw turquoise comes from many places, and if we aren’t sure of its source, we won’t mislead you. It is often practice to give a couple of options as to which mine turquoise comes from if it is not already labeled, rather than a definitive answer, as some turquoise types are very similar. Moreover, we are up front about the fact that approximately 97% of turquoise on the market today is stabilized, meaning that it has been treated so as to harden a stone, as turquoise is very soft, and maintain its color. A common misconception is that stabilized means a piece is fake, or dyed, but the truth is that, in many cases, turquoise must be stabilized so that the stone does not fall apart. We will never claim any stone is “natural,” which, in this business, refers to something being entirely untreated, if it is not, or even if we are unsure.
Palms’ goal is to be your most trusted source for all things Native American art related. We want an enduring relationship with you, our valued customer, based on quality, selection and best prices. We want to earn and keep your trust, and we want to continue to purchase directly from local Native American artists, so that both we, and you, can be sure your pieces are authentic.