Native American Ring

The informant is a 75 year old Irish woman. The piece collected is a folk item, specifically a genuine turquoise ring set in silver. It was created and designed by a Navajo Native American and acquired by the informant in 1970.

Me: When did you acquire the ring?

Informant: “When I came out for a family funeral. My brother in-law knew some Native Americans who used to make jewelry and previously purchased other jewelry from them. After admiring the ring, my brother in law, Bill, gave it to me. He had probably acquired it a couple years prior. We were just talking about indian jewelry, earrings and necklaces… but I liked rings. The funeral was in Scottsdale, Arizona. When the person Bill was dealing with used to make the jewelry, he would engrave his signature in all the pieces, which in turn makes it more valuable today. At this same time, I also received another piece from him. It was a necklace, made on elastic with silver rings, and around the rings were little birds. The birds were made of Quartz, gold, yellow, white and pink. The necklace was not signed, but I received it at the same time as the ring.

Me: What do you think is the significance of the ring?

Informant:  Well it has feathers on it, which are typically used during certain ceremonies. It is important to their culture.

My interpretation: The ring is definitely handmade, and it does have a worn down signature engraved on the inside of it.  My thought is that the Native American that Bill bought it from probably makes a lot of these types of rings and sells them to Americans and tourists. The feathers, turquoise stone and general style definitely resemble what would be thought as “authentically” Native American. Whenever I go on vacation, to places like Montana, Wyoming, Texas and Alaska, I always see people selling jewelry of a similar style, which leads me to believe that while it may be handmade and one of a kind, it is part of a larger trend.

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