Silver bench beads

Hi, Are you Turquoise People or Silver & Turquoise People? I have 2 lots of silver beads in with all the Native American jewelry we inherited (and are now selling) that I am assuming are Navajo bench beads but how can I tell? I have a couple lots that are obvious - made of dimes/ have designs stamped, but these attached photos are simple bench beads on string. Navajo or NOT?
Also, is there a at-home way of checking if things are sterling


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Hey there, Sarah!

Firstly, I would like to say that YES! There are at- home ways of checking silver content.

  1. The Magnet Test: simply apply a good, strong magnet to your beads. If the beads are magnetic and they stick, this is a likely indicator that they are not sterling. If they are not magnetic, this is a good indicator that they might be sterling.

  2. The Acid Test: you can purchase an acid testing kit online to test metal purity (like this one, here: ). These tests are very accurate and will test many pieces of jewelry before you run out of testing acid. They are very simple to use and are a great tool to have if you have a lot of jewelry that you are unsure of.

  3. Loupe It: by taking a jeweler’s loupe or a strong magnifying glass, check the rim of the beads right where the holes are punctured. Look for discoloration or metal that does not match the rest of the beads. If you can easily see discoloration, they are most likely not silver.

Are they Native American made beads? It is very difficult to tell. I make jewelry, and I often come across many beads similar to these (strung on string/ bench bead style) Your beads do appear to be hand made, and who knows? They could be Native American! If they are not Native American, they still have value. Sterling beads like these are sold at jewelry shows by the gram, and they are not cheap! If you inherited these with a lot of other obviously Native American jewelry, there is a good chance that they are. I wish I could be of more help to you :pensive:.

To summarize, YES you can home-test silver. Are they Native American bench beads? MAYBE! What is the value? It depends on how many beads you have. As I am writing this reply, the spot price of .925 sterling silver is currently $15.89. So, multiply the weight of your beads (in ounces) by $15.89, and that will give you a good starting point of your beads.

Sarah, I hope this information was helpful to you in some ways. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help in determining whether or not they are Native American beads!

Cheers, Bree


Very Helpful!! Thank you for taking the time to explain and I ordered one of the testing kits you recommended.

Hello, this link will take you to Thunderbird Jewelry Supply here in Gallup, New Mexico. They sell lots of beads and have different styles.