If you plan to travel to Arizona to attend the 125th Anniversary of the Shootout at the OK Corral, you might find it to have been seduced by the shiny side of the force. If you know a little about what you are doing, you can feel fairly safe buying jewelry. Just be careful and don’t fall for any stories. Trust me.
First: Never, never, ever, ever buy jewelry, rugs, or crafts from roadside vendors. Don’t buy them from the vendors who line the streets along the Palace of the Governor in Santa Fe. Don’t buy from panhandlers.
Now (sigh) we’ve taken care of the hardest part. Sorry, the hardest part is knowing when to say when. Trust me, been there and done that.
Buying and Selling
If you have a business license bring it with you. Bring extra copies, business cards, and maybe a copy of your business listing in a phone book. Why? Well, there’s a dirty little secret when it comes to buying Native American Jewelry.
Say I’m selling a Squash Blossom Necklace to you for $300. How much did I pay for it? $100. One Third. 1/3rd. 33% -- get the picture? If you are buying from a shop in Santa Fe, Tucson, Bisbee, or even Tombstone, you’re paying more than $300. The mark-up is incredible. The rule of thumb is to never get attached to a piece of Native American jewelry. If someone admires it, add a percentage to what you paid and sell it!
I’ve sold many pieces that way. Want to go into business? This is the easiest way. Oh, back to buying. If you can get the dealer to take a third off, you are doing well. A retailer needs to make a profit. I always sold my jewelry (to my friends) at a third off; good friends got half off, but that was rare.
There are two primary styles of Native American jewelry from the Southwest: Navajo and Zuni. The Hopi make jewelry, as do the Santo Domingos. It is all highly distinctive and unique. By the time you finish reading this, you will know enough of what you need to know to make an educated purchase.
The Navajo Nation occupies the largest reservation in the United States. The reservation encompasses some of the starkest, most desolate, and absolutely magnificent scenery in the world. The Searchers was filmed on the Reservation as was Cheyenne Autumn and several other John Ford movies.