Identifying Your Navajo, Hopi, & Zuni Jewelry, Plus Maker



Who made my jewelry? This might be a question we hear a dozen times a day, and the person who asks expects us to know. Sometimes we just don’t know and that is when the fun begins. It seems like the number of artists in this area is endless, so many talented people make gorgeous pieces of jewelry here. Gallup mainly sells Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi jewelry and that is what we sell here at the Trading Post.

So we just don’t know – Step One

Turn the piece of jewelry over and look for a hallmark or other markings. Many times we will recognize the hallmark, and if we don’t we have resources in the store that we refer to frequently.
imageExcellent for Hopi Hallmarks

imageGreat overall source for Hallmarks, has some mistakes but definitely a must have

imageReally works well if you have the artist name and want to see images of style of work

imageThe internet, of course make sure the source makes sense, but where else
can you find so much information

Step Two

General class the style. Big silver and large stones, good chance it is Navajo. Small stones, cluster, or inlay and you have a reason to believe the work is Zuni. The piece is all silver, overlay, and the bottom oxidized part has a very fine texture and you just might have a piece of Hopi work. Of course, you have Navajo, Zuni, & Hopi artists that don’t make the traditional style of pieces their Tribe is known for, but the number is definitely a minority.
imageNavajo artists make inlay jewelry, too. However, it usually looks a little different, like on heavier silver or a rough cobble stone style of inlay. The center piece is Zuni, the other two are Navajo made.

imageZuni & Navajo cluster work. The heavier silver is a sign that it is Navajo made. However the two cluster pieces on the left represent a Navajo & Zuni artist.

imageNavajo on the left, Zuni on the right. A very subtle clue is the stone work, notice the Zuni work matches color and size a little better. Also, the Navajo artist just can't help but add more silver to the work, heavy around the stones.

imageNotice the big difference in silver, a Navajo piece will almost always be heavier silver construction.

imageHopi and Navajo all silver pieces. The buckle is Navajo made, notice the design, the End of the Trail, just don't see that often if ever depicted in Hopi silver. Plus, notice the shine, the Navajo piece has a satin finish, the two Hopi an nice high shine.

imageAnother Navajo made or not Hopi made clue, the etched oxidized background is just not as fine as you find on Hopi work.

imageZuni and Navajo turquoise cluster pins. Very similar, but do show slight differences. The Zuni pride themselves on stone work and they do not like to show lots of matrix, the Navajo piece shows lots of matrix. Also, remember the silver, the Zuni piece (on the left) has that nice open design, the Navajo piece has the heavier silver look.

imageZuni left, Navajo right. The far right pendant is a dead giveaway Navajo made piece, big and chunky.

imageCluster rings can be very difficult, because you just can't get a bunch of stones or silver into the piece. The two on the left are Zuni, the stones show a little less matrix. The middle right ring is the easiest to identify because the stones are just a style you find in Navajo, usually purchased already cabbed where the other pieces have been shaped by the artist.

imageThe free form shaped stone on the left is usually a Navajo made giveaway. Plus, coral and turquoise is found made by both Navajo & Zuni artists, but definitely favored to the Navajo.

imageZuni left, Navajo right. The Navajo piece is easy to identify, big, heavy, and a nice free form shaped stone.

imageThe Zuni piece has a cast shank with a silver leaf design on the sides, plus the stone is cut by the artist, not something you find in local supply stores, but still difficult to determine, luckily this one is hallmarked by Robert & Bernice Leekya. Typical Navajo style split ring shank.


Step Three

Hallmarks, just like the style of jewelry the markings on the backside can help to identify. Generally, Zuni & Navajo artists will use initials for their artist mark, exp. Roger Skeets will use an R and S stamp on the back of his work. Hopi artists will usually use a symbol, something like a snowflake or sun for example.

imageHopi hallmark, a symbol

imageNavajo & Zuni hallmarks, initials

Step Four

Get some help. That is exactly why we started the forum, join today.

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Comments

  • i have a zuni ring.upsidedown makersmark FG? would you please help to identify thanks
  • a picture would be a great help, no FG hallmarks in Wright that are Zuni, thanks for posting
  • Hello! I am allllll the way from Tennessee, and I can't find my piece of Navajo jewelry that I purchased at a Sedona flea market about four years ago! I am very upset and trying to track down the maker. All I know was that it was a silver ring with an oval, black opal stone. The inscription was "JM" and also had "s-s" inscribed on it. It also had a few details, I have forgotten their meaning over the years, but one was a feather and on the other side of the stone was a little silver ball. They had given me a card that had the representations of each design and what they meant, but I can't find it! The company was family-owned, and the man I purchased it from was younger with the longest black hair I have ever seen! They were so kind, and I have been trying for years to find them again. ANY help would be greatly appreciated!
  • Could you give us a picture of the ring.
  • I have three pieces of pottery with initials I cannot identify through google, sigh. Will you be able to help me or can you direct me to a site that can? The etched pieces are definitely Navajo as they say Navajo underneath, and all three have the same numbers next to the initials. I am not having much luck so far and thought I would take a chance here. Thank you
  • I think I might have found the answer... I was advised that the numbers next to the initials were their identification number and that I could contact the Navajo Nation and find out the identity of the artist. I hope this is true, I left a msg. Thank you for your forum, the information here is great.
  • I have a needlepoint turquoise bracelet. The hallmark is hand engraved and says A.&V. N.
    Do you know who made this bracelet? Thank you!
  • I have a bracelet and necklace with the letters KS. Navajo I believe. As ideas as to who and how to find out more information. Thanks
  • Pictures really help identify the artists, lots of similar hallmarks
  • Looking for maker of my bracelet. Its a large sungod with markings of "PC" "az3cn" and "vxxx" on the back.
  • I have a really old native American ring looks like two lions fighting with a turquoise small stone as a moon inside Hallmark paw print 14 STER ANY HELP?
  • This does not sound Native American, but send us a picture to verify, jason@perrynulltrading.com
  • I have a ring marked S Ray, and have seen this mark attributed to "Silver Ray", but I can't find any other information about the artist. There are a number of nice pieces online by this person, but I would like to know a bit more if possible.

  • From the looks of the jewelry it appears to be a shop mark for some manufacturer.
  • I acquired many pieces of native american jewelry when my grandma passed away. I am having trouble with hallmarks. One piece is a kanchi doll ring, signed m ortiz, a bracelet stamped CW sterling, an ear ring and necklace set stamped _F and a necklace with the name Adeline Bowannie. Can you help me with these? There are several other items, they are not stamped tho.
  • If you could take pictures of the work and send to jason@perrynulltrading.com, thanks.
  • Hello!
    I have a beautiful piece that I have had for decades and am interested in selling it. The piece is a pendant/pin, inlaid with turquoise, onyx, coral, mother of pearl, of a thunderbird and is signed on the back...it looks like, "Lary F??? Lonjone?? Can you tell me anything about it?
  • edited July 2012
    I have an bracelet with coral and turquoise inlay. Dad said it was Zuni and it was traded to him in exchange for horse feed in late 1960's, or early 1970's. The mark on the back is an arrow. Dad said the artist was Singer, but I have looked up his mark and it is not with an arrow. Does anyone know the artist who uses this mark?
  • Would it be possible to include picture of bracelet and hallmark? Lots of information there, more than one artist uses an arrow for a hallmark, Singer is a Navajo name, picture would help a ton, thanks.
  • I have a gold ring inlaid with turquoise & coral that has a feather stamped/engraved on the inside of he ring. Is anyone familiar with that mark? Or where I can purchase more pieces? I love it & definetly want another piece. Thanks!
  • Hello, I have what looks to me like a navajo cross necklace. It is signed on the back a dot and a small v Inside a large V. The dot is above the 2 V's. Please help me, if you can. I have been looking on and off all day long. Cannot find this mark. The whole signature is a R with a circle around it. 925 and the v's unless the marks are a large A and a small a inside that. HELP! Please.
  • If you can provide a picture that would be best, found something in the hallmark book, Ric Charley but the circle is connected to the R and makes a C.
  • edited August 2012
    need to know a bit about this ring ,who did it and quality ,I really like this piece turquoise is very nice .the initial looks like an upside down J with a dot above the hook.
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  • This ring has a piece of Kingman Turquoise, the silver is cast and the leafs are not handmade. I am not familiar with the hallmark, it looks great on your finger.
  • I have a necklace with a large thunderbird at the bottom and and 5 birds on each side. It has inlayed turquoise and coral. There is a 'bear foot with claws' stamped on the back of the large thunderbird. I am trying to determine which if it is Hopi, Zuni, or Navajo.
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  • My wife bought a silver and spiny oyster bracelet in Taos recently The seller indicated it was Navajo and that the initials on the back, L Y stood for L. Yazzie. There are lots of Yazzies and he didn't know which one made this piece. I read that Leo Yazzie inscribes his initials vertically. This piece has the initials set diagonally with the L above and to the left of the Y. Anybody have any ideas who this might be? Thanks in advance.
  • Could you please send an image of the hallmark, thanks for sharing.
  • There is no hallmark...just "sterling silver" and "L Y"
  • I am sending you some pictures. The word to the left of 'LY' is "Sterling". Thank you so much!
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  • Sorry Jason, I forgot to ask you what you think the value is? Thank you very much!
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