Researching Native Silver from the Americas

Vintage Mexico silver turquoise cuff bracelet

Some of the most beautiful sterling silver jewelry I’ve ever encountered was made by Native American artisans. From the incredible Navajo squash blossom necklaces to Zuni petit point jewelry to the intricate repose work found in native Mexican workmanship, there are unlimited examples of fine native silver.

Unfortunately, many of these pieces are incredibly hard to identify. Many older pieces are unsigned and even those that are signed can be difficult to trace back to a specific artist. Markings also vary by country and region. While Mexico instituted a set of standards for marking silver and gold in the first half of the 20th century, the United States does not regulate markings on jewelry made by native tribal members.

Though tracking the origins of native silver can be challenging, there are some great resources available.  Below are some sites and books to get you started on your research.

Native Silver Websites

Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers Marks – Mexico: A great starting place for researching Mexico silver marks, this site includes information on purity and location markings. Artists are listed alphabetically.

Silver Collection – Mexico: A large collection of silver hallmarks and some information on the history of markings in Mexico.

Indian Native American Jewelry Artists: Hundreds of markings from native American artists in the United States and tribal associations.

Tumbleweeds Jewelry:  Modern native American hallmarks

Turquoise Village: A style guide to help identify Native American jewelry by tribe

Native Silver Books

Native American Silver Hallmarks by Billie Hougart

100 Collectible Native American Silversmiths & Their Hallmarks by Billie Hougart

Hopi Silver: The History and Hallmarks of Hopi Silversmithing by Margaret Nickelson Wright

Hallmarks of the Southwest: Who Made It? By Barton Wright

Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry: Artists, Trader’s Guilds and the Government by Pat Messier

The Little Book of Mexican Silver Trade and Hallmarks by Billie Hougart

Indian Jewelry of the American Southwest by William A Turnbaugh

The Little Book of Mexican Silver Trade and Hallmarks by Billie Hougart