Fetish necklace value

looking to information and get an idea of the value ( If any ) of this fetish necklace . Also where to best sell if it does have value? It has 89 fetish plus the bear , The clasp is silver . from 1970s estate … Any help would be great


Fetish necklaces are waaay out of my wheelhouse - not my thing - but the clasp looks unusual. Hopefully someone else will join this thread…

Selling a fetish necklace of unknown origin is very problematic: it’s illegal to represent it as Native American or by Pueblo if you don’t know for a fact that it is. And it seems you have no info on it, is that right? There is a preponderance of fakes in the resale environment–imported and not handmade, vs. authentic handcarved fetish necklaces by Zuni and Navajo people. I will say that the animals in this one are at least within the realm of normal Native fetish production, unlike the ones out there with dolphins and stingrays or whatever. (The clasp is indeed goofy.)

High-quality Zuni fetish necklaces are expensive, less so the Navajo versions. There are low-quality things that resemble a fetish necklace online for $54. It’s crucial to know the quality and origin for selling one.

Maybe @Jason could take a look for his read of this one.


Thanks again @Steve. Good fetish necklace resource. Guess my dolphin fetish necklace won’t make the cut. :rofl:

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Thanks for your reply. I know they visited new Mexico in the late 1970s and again in the 1980s . But
haven’t found any receipts so cant say for sure where it was purchased?

Fetish necklaces are one of the most difficult identifications to make, and even seasoned experts can really miss a correct attribution. Generally, I think the categories of makers to consider are Zuni, Navajo, Kewa (Santo Domingo), Anglo and import. Differences can be subtle, but the types of animals featured (and combinations), materials (natural stones or imitations), complexity, flatness vs dimensionality, size, heishi used, the influence of purpose behind the individual’s carving traditions, subtle personalities of the animals, inlaid eyes (rather than painted) —all of these factors and morego into assessing what category the necklace belongs in.

Unfortunately, your closely stacked animals with a central bear (or bird, “kachina”, or other figure etc) is one of the most common imports. There have been some genuine Zuni-made necklaces of this design, so of course the imitators would mimic a master carver. There must be millions of these necklaces on the market now, but only a handful of Zuni makers have done this type. The real deal sells for thousands, and even in the 70s, Zuni necklaces were relatively expensive.

HOWEVER, your necklace has some better carving than is typically seen in imports. IMO, I do not think this is Zuni, but…perhaps it is Navajo-made?

Candice Jewelry out of Albuquerque has an online catalog that is very instructive for seeing imports and their cost. It’s a 2014 edition so I would imagine costs have gone up even for imports, but the lesson is a jaw-dropper. Several versions similar to your bear necklace are available for about $25 or so.

One of the reasons I know any of this is that I’ve unwittingly bought more than my share of imports and discovered the truth with much study (and I still feel very green). I have bought Navajo-made, represented as Zuni; while I like them very much, they have an entirely different character than Zuni. I think it’s because the cultures surrounding the use of fetishes is distinctly different. Navajo work typically sells for much less than Zuni, but more than import stuff. There are some Anglo carvers who do creative work that resemble fetish necklaces but are not, and sell them without lying about it. The flagrant misrepresentation is the thing that gets me, and is a tragedy especially for theZuni people.


@Ceebees A++ post, thank you for this contribution. :clap:

Here is my repro @Ceebees .

The takeaway for me is, if I were to ever buy fetish necklaces (but I prob won’t), I personally would need to buy directly from the artist, or from a legit store that buys from them and knows their stuff. I wouldn’t trust myself to figure it all out.

@StevesTrail, what, no dolphins in the desert southwest? :thinking::rofl:


From an older post, comes great wisdom.Yes, Ziacat, definitely buying from the artist or legit store is the best way to go. Very good info from Steve and chicfarmer on Fetish necklaces.

A local higher end gift shop here in CT is closing their doors after 50 years.to retire. We had never been there but decided to stop in. Whirliigigs, solar garden items, etc. Walls of jewelry from SteamPunk to BoHo.
A small case with what looked like NA jewelry, but nothing saying it was. A few turquoise pieces and center stage a Fetish Necklace with multiple species of birds, larger than any fetish I had ever seen, but then my experience is limited. The eagles, on it were 2 or 3 were brown with white head and tail. It looked impressive but if NA the price seemed low for it’s size. $415.00. Too much for a fake, too little if real. So I looked up Fetishes on the Forum here, and am glad I passed.