I have become very interested in Native American jewelry, especially the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni since we have a home in AZ. I have been acquiring some pieces and trying to figure out which artist made which item. I have found several websites that can assist with hallmarks and have purchases Hallmarks of the Southwest book, but there are a number of artists who either can’t be found or who hallmarked their items like several other artists. Take for instance: I have two necklaces hallmarked “RB” and “Sterling”. RB can stand for a number of artist including Robert Becenti Jr. and Richard Begay. I also have a couple of pieces hallmarked “SS” & “Sterling” and that can be several artists including Stan Slim (is there really an artist by that name?), Sherry Sandoval, Serena Small, & Stella Smiley. When I first started to acquire and could identify a hallmark, I then went to sites like Ebay and Etsy for help figuring out who made what, but have come to realize that most of those folks have no idea what they are talking about and are just complicating the problem. There is SO much misinformation out there. Since I intend to resell some of my items, I would like to be able to definitively name the artist rather than either put a name on it and hope or put a number of names on it saying one of them probably made this item. Are there any sources out there for this purpose? Can we contact someone at a museum or other facility that would know their NA jewelry? You would think that the NA community would want their items properly identified and credited to the correct artist so could find this information somewhere. Help! Help!
It is very difficult. We use Henry Sam to do a lot of our repair work and on occasion he makes a few traditional style pieces for us, his hallmark is HS. We also buy traditional work from Herman Smith, his hallmark is HS. To the untrained eye the work could be mistaken for the same artist. Many artists make jewelry as a part time gig, and collectors want hallmarks, viola a hallmark to an artist that might have made a handful of pieces and nobody is going to know. Most full time artist who have a certain style and following are identifiable, everyone else it is really impossible unless you purchased the piece directly. Good luck and don’t let the hallmarks discourage you. Thanks for sharing.