Hallmarks and how to find information about my Native American pieces
A hallmark or Maker's Mark is a stamped or carved marking on the back of jewelry or other craftable items that helps you to identify it's maker and/or silver or gold content. This is a rather simplified definition, but the purpose of this article is to help those seeking information about jewelry hallmarks or Maker's Mark to find information about who designed their particular piece of jewelry. Top
Hallmarks are a way of identifying the maker, time period things were made in, metal content and other related information. Hallmarks alone do not provide positive proof that you have a highly sought after designer's work represented by the hallmark it bears. These marks are easily copied and duplicated and can represent multiple people when just initials are used.
Having a certain hallmark doesn't guarantee authenticity or that it is definitely handcrafted by any one person. Hallmarks are but one way of identifying an item and who designed it. Also, some authentic pieces can be in circulation that never received a hallmark. The maker may just have forgotten to mark it or may have made pieces they didn't see the need to mark.
If you are seeking information for insurance or appraisal purposes, we recommend that you contact an expert in that field to actually look at the pieces in question. Below we will have some information as to where to locate such a person. Top
We at Southwest Affinity are not qualified appraisers or jewelry historians, however, we are able to refer to sources that can assist you. We also offer a list of hallmarks based on silversmiths that we know and are familiar with and hope that it is informative for those that purchase jewelry from us. For a list of our silversmith's hallmarks click here: Silversmith's hallmarks
For those of you seeking to identify a piece of jewelry that you have, that was not purchased through Southwest Affinity, we have provided a list of options below to assist you in your search. Top
First, if you purchase your Native American jewelry from us there is a list of our known silversmith hallmark's below. We are not experts in this field, but we will direct you to people and sources that are. No matter if your interest in hallmarks is just for fun and personal knowledge or for an expert appraisal, you should be able to find the information in the following sources:If your just looking for information for fun and not for insurance purposes try these: (If you need this information for resell or insurance purposes click here:
American Indian Jewelers #1, 1200 Artists Biographies, by Dr. Gregory & Angie Yan Schaaf. - It's a great book and we highly recommend it. It has all their bios, photographs and hallmark information. Dr. Schaaf organization is The Center for Indigenous Arts and Cultures.
This book is now out of print and a new Jewelry II will be out soon. You can order these at http://www.indianartbooks.com/
You can also try visiting Dr. Gregory and Angie Yan Schaaf website at: http://www.indianartbooks.com/ They can be reached at:
If you are needing this information to determine value for insurance appraisal or resell purposes I highly recommend that you contact Joan Caballero, who is an expert in this field and teaches, does public lectures and presentations, appears on the PBS Antique Road show as an expert and is a member of several professional appraising organizations. Joan Caballero is very qualified and you can learn more about her here at her web site: Joan Caballero Appraisals. You can reach Joan Caballero at:
Here is what you will need to provide her:
Send her the above information with a request for a quote, so she will know what your looking for and be able to give you an approximate charge for her services.
There are people that offer free appraisals on the Internet, however, I would be cautious in this area. Some wish to sell your pieces for you, and may not be giving you accurate information that is best for YOU. If you are looking to sell a piece you feel has a value, please check with an expert that has nothing to gain from the information that they provide you. Top
You will find the hallmarks stamped on the back of your Native American jewelry. If you have purchased some of our Native American Indian made jewelry and do not find the hallmark in this list, please contact us for more information. Most of the silversmiths are Navajo, however, we do use Hopi and Cherokee silversmiths as well and have tried to note that beside their name. Top
Here are a few of our Native American artists bios. Most of our artists are very private people and prefer not to post their information online, I can't say that I blame them.
Born and raised in Shiprock, New Mexico. Grew up among ten siblings, 3 older sisters, 3 older brothers, 2 younger sisters, and 2 younger brothers. Father is deceased survived by my mother who weaves Yei-bi-chei rugs. My parents brought us up with Navajo traditions and at the same time encouraged us to get a good education.
Graduated in 1981 from Shiprock High School then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Took Diesel mechanic classes at TVI and graduated in 1984. Worked in the field of Diesel mechanic for about ten years. Worked at the same time practicing how to make and buff jewelry.
I met my wife Rena in 1984 and now we have 3 boys� ages 17, 11, and 15 months old. Rena got me into the jewelry business because her family was in the jewelry business doing piecework .I got started by buffing and polishing for my mother-in-law. Later I got a buffing job and learned how the pieces were put together. Soon I Worked my way up to a silversmith position with my welding skills and my artistic talents. I get my ideas from attending different tribal dances and going to all sorts of art shows. My favorite pieces are the 3 dimensional one-of-a-kind kachinas among contemporary jewelry. I also work with gold and learning how to perfect in-lay work. Making masters for casting is also my specialty.
Tony Garcia was born in Laguna, New Mexico, a small Native American village near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As a young man, Tony joined the United States Marine Corp. He served for three years, two of which he was stationed in Japan.
Tony began to learn silversmithing by watching his brother-in-law at a young age. He watched him make jewelry and get paid for it. He saw how his brother-in-law used his tools and melted the silver. Then Tony tried it for himself. He melted the solder of tin cans and used it to practice silverwork. At first he made plain bracelets from strips of silver set with a turquoise stone and decorated with stamp designs. His skills increased until he was proficient in most silversmithing techniques. He has made many forms of silverwork that he could sell, from candlesticks and bowls to all types of jewelry. He has used these silversmithing skills for nearly 40 years.
Tony�s talent and skills combine to create beautiful, unique jewelry. He is a master at creating fascinating jewelry and has made a profound impact on the appreciation of contemporary Southwestern jewelry.Tony and his wife currently live on the Native American Reservation in the village of Tahojiillee, New Mexico. He has three sons and one daughter.
Kathy Yazzie was born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico on the Navajo reservation. Kathy learned to make silver jewelry from her parents, both skilled artisans, too young to practice with silver she was turned loose to practice on tin, mostly old tin cans. She soon began to develop her own artistic designs and styles.
Kathy�s family ties have heavily influenced her artistic development. Her family stressed the importance of productivity, while insisting on high quality.
Kathy worked in Gallup at a number of trading posts before moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work with a silver jewelry manufacturer designing and making her traditional styles.
Traditional styles are her favorite type of jewelry to make. She usually starts with the turquoise stone and designs the article of jewelry around it. Therefore, jewelry of simple designs are chosen to show the turquoise to its best advantage.
Occasionally she creates a number of one-of-a-kind pieces, but prefers to do the more traditional styles.
The charm of Kathy�s traditional style continues to enthrall jewelry buyers all over the world. Back to bio list
Larson Lee (Navajo) was born in 1960 in Lukachukai, AZ on the Navajo Reservation. He is one of twelve children; he has 4 sisters and 7 brothers.
His grandfather Joe Lee was a well known silversmith and medicine man. As a small child Larson would travel across the country dancing at pow-wows with his grandfather as far away as San Francisco to Chicago. There is a large drawing of his grandfather (Joe Lee) in a museum in San Francisco, as well as post cards of him sitting in a Hogan (Navajo house).
Larson used to watch his grandfather design and create his sterling silver jewelry pieces as a child. Later when Larson went off to school, he took classes in general silver working techniques. He used brass at first to practice, he started with small pieces and worked up to larger and more intricate pieces. He inherited not only the skills and inspiration from his grandfather but his tools of the trade when he passed. Larson has designed everything from boot tips to a belt buckle for Bob Hope. His work can be seen in the 1989 summer issue of National Geographic magazine where they featured Native American Jewelry and a squash blossom he made. He is not limited to just working with silver, he likes to design pieces in gold also. He keeps tradition and modern design in mind when he creates individual unique pieces using his native artistic skills.
Larson hobbies include dirt bike riding, working on muscle cars and bronco riding in Native American Rodeos. He also enjoys running 22 miles up the mountain near his home at least 2-3 times a month. Back to bio list
I was born in 1956 in Socorro, New Mexico, and I�m a member of the Sagebrush clan from my mother�s side and Edgewater clan from my father�s side. As a young child I grew up traveling through out Texas, Arizona and Colorado. My family eventuality settled on the Navajo reservation near Tohajiilee, NM, where I attended school through the 11th grade.
I was introduced to traditional Indian jewelry at a young age by watching my family. By the age of 17 I started designing and making my own jewelry.
I�ve always felt that my creativity came to me naturally and it was a gift given to me.
I have 6 children, 5 girls and 1 boy and 24 grandchildren who bring me a lot of joy. I still find time to continue making fine sterling silver and turquoise jewelry and continuing the Jake name and reputation.
I truly hope you enjoy the feelings that emulate from my creations.
Lucy Jake Back to bio list
Phillip was born at San Felipe, Pueblo in New Mexico in 1951. He was raised on a large ranch along with 8 sisters and 5 brothers together they tended all sorts of live stock and farmed lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. He has stayed close to his roots with live stock of his own, and he still enjoys horseback riding to check up on his live stock or just go for a ride at sunset.
His father made turquoise necklaces from natural nuggets to sell, but it was his older brother who got him interested in silver work. Phil started to work with silver in junior high school. It was there he learn the basics of jewelry making and crafting. He continued to work on jewelry through out his high school years perfecting his technique. His brother and father instilled in him to always stay true to his culture, and that shows in his jewelry designs where he uses clouds and rain along with other symbols which can also be seen on baskets and pottery from his pueblo.
Phil loves to travel and see different parts of the country. In his travels he has traveled to Canada a number of times. He also likes to go fishing, hunting and just about any activity that gets him outdoors. He speaks a number of Native American pueblo dialects including San Felipe, Santa Domingo, Acoma, Zia, Luguna and Cochiti. Back to bio list
Michael is an enrolled member of the Echota Cherokee, a State recognized Cherokee Band, and an Artist member of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association. He holds membership in ATLATL, a National Service Organization of Indian Arts and Artist.
Michael creates one of a kind, hand fabricated, sterling silver and 14kt gold jewelry. His jewelry can be found in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Michael Wigley Galleries, LTD., in Prescott, Arizona at the Phippen Museum of Western Art and in Snohomish, Washington at the Northwest Native Designs Art Gallery. We, at Southwest Affinity, are lucky to be able to retail some of his product line. Michael says,
My jewelry is inspired by the many colors and textures found in the natural world, by the beauty of the mountains and of the deserts and by my heritage. Cherokee people were experts with copper and silver, along with other materials, long before Columbus sailed toward these shores. I have always been proud of my heritage and jewelry making is in part an expression of that pride.
Being a contemporary jeweler Michael showed interest, at an early age, in this craft but never had the opportunity to explore these interests until later in life. In 1990 he signed up for the colored stones course at GIA (Gemological Institute of America). In 1995 Michael took classes in Silversmithing and lost wax casting. In that same year he received the Gemologist Diploma from the GIA. In 1998 he studied in a workshop under noted Navajo Jeweler "Richard Tsosie". In 1999 Michael began teaching Silversmithing classes.
Michael's jewelry can be found in Fine Art Galleries and Museums in Sedona, Prescott and Tucson Arizona, Santa Fe, San Diego, Block Island, Atlanta and in private collections worldwide.
Michael lives in Spring Valley California with his Fianc�e Brandy and his 18 year old son Aaron. He won 2004s 1st place, in the Metal Jewelry division at the 2004 San Diego Museum of Man Indian Market.
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