Fake Indian Jewelry
By Bill Donovan
Fake Indian jewelry is a major problem in the industry. There are hundreds of men and women in the Philippines, Taiwan and other countries who are mass producing fake Indian jewelry that costs retailers a fraction of what they would have to pay a Native American.
The problem of determining fake versus real is even more difficult because many of the items imported from overseas is as good as or better than the real thing.
The best way you can be sure of buying the real stuff is to do it directly from the Native silversmith, many of whom now have their own websites. You can also get some good deals by contacting the silversmiths directly, but many don’t want to compete with the retailers who sell their products, so they will charge you the same price.
If you want to buy from a dealer, look for one that belongs to the Indian Arts and Crafts Association. They usually have their membership noted on their window or front door. This means they comply with IACA rules dealing with fake Indian jewelry. IF they sell it, they have to have it labeled as such, but most don’t sell it because they want you to buy the more expensive Indian-made items.
Forget about hallmarks or other labels on the jewelry. Federal authorities have confiscated fake jewelry where the dealers have put on the hallmarks or labels after the items have been shipped.
Trust the craftsperson. Otherwise be careful what you buy.