Buying Genuine American Indian Jewelry & Crafts
By Sam Serio
Buying American Indian jewelry & crafts can be fun, exciting and
confusing. Whether youre 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. Heres some information to help you get the best quality American
Indian jewelry & crafts for your money, whether youre 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
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.
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.
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.