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Native American Necklace?

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I went out on a Southern California beach early this morning on a low tide and found this necklace.

I believe the Bear is made out of soapstone.  But it is two pieces sandwiched together as you can see the glue bond.  It is strung together with a wire that is soldered at the clasp.  Each of the parts is unique but the pukas have been shaped from a material that has ridges on one side and is smooth on the other.  I'm not certain of my materials but I do believe the little pieces of turquoise to be real.  I don't think it is real valuable but I'm interested in its origin.








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There is no way to be certain of the ethnic or cultural background of the person who made this necklace. Nor of the person who wore it. But it is a modern creation in an "Native American" style.

The white beads are modern creations as well as the hematite beads, stringing material terminations and clasps. The bear is carved using the 12 step method that every novice carver uses to carve a human face or a bear. It was carved with a rotary tool and finished with a riffler. It looks as if the details were carved from a cast blank. The bird fetishes protrude with sharp corners and are sharp and crisp and the plated silver clasp is bright. It is not an old piece.

If the "turquoise" is polymer a hot pin will certainly melt it. But most quality fake turquoise is dyed Howellite and will not melt. You can generally see places on a dyed stone where the dye pooled and created a darker spot.Especially around the hole. Most dyed stones are dyed on a string and the dye will collect in the gaps between the stones and be a bit darker. A quick streak test on a corner will show you if the turquoise is a dyed stone. You will see the light colored Howellite under the dyed surface.

While an ethnic or cultural assessment of the creator/wearer is not possible the social identity of the wearer can be fairly accurately assumed. They were no more than middle class, probably under 50 years old, probably female and identify as bohemian. They were probably culturally American and genetically white European but claim to have "indian blood". They wear this style jewelry to project this self image to other caucasions. 

Many of these people make their own jewelry. So this could be a bead stringer's creation as well. Many fair haired women gather on Tuesday nights to get in touch with their native selves. Beading groups are popular everywhere these days. A big part of that is the "Native American Cultural" style. Art and crafts fairs are replete with white women with feathers woven into their hair selling their spiritual creations. 

I would venture to say that the item was created by a person of color for sale to a person who lacked cultural identity. This is a niche heavily marketed to in reservation gift shops and just south of the border. Lots of this type of jewelry is sold in these venues. Art and crafts markets are also common sources for "indianesque" pieces of jewelry like these.

It could be "Native American" style jewelry made by people with "Native American" genetics. It is possible the artist also identified culturally as a Native American. So I guess it can be as "Native American" as a person wants it to be depending on their definition of "Native American".


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