Frequently Asked Questions
What are your gallery hours?
We have our gallery hours posted on our Contact Us page.
Do you offer lay-a-way?
Do you have a return policy?
Yes, click here to learn more.
I submitted an inquiry about one of your items via email or by using the “Ask a Question” form on your website. How long do you typically take to respond?
We respond as quickly as possible, typically on the same day. If your inquiry was sent after gallery business hours, we will respond as soon as possible.. If you do not see a response in your inbox, please check your spam/junk folder. If you find our email marked as “spam” or “junk," please mark us as “not spam” or “not junk.” This helps us greatly and others like you to receive our emails. If you need an answer quickly or still have problems please contact us at 1-800-422-9382.
Do you have a catalog that you mail?
No, our website serves as our online catalog, we buy and sell one-of-a-kind works every day. Our website lists all of our available inventory.
How do I get on your mailing list?
Click here to be added to our email list. You may unsubscribe at any time. If you find a Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery email with our branding marked as “spam” or “junk," please mark it as “not spam” or “not junk.” This helps us greatly and others like you to receive our emails.
I just received your latest eBlast. When I clicked on the item, it took me to your website with a message that the item was discontinued. Does this mean it has sold?
Yes, our website is updated immediately as works sell. If the item you were interested in is no longer available, please contact us. We are happy to keep you informed when we acquire something like it; and many times we have similar items in inventory.
Will I be charged sales tax on my purchase?
Arizona is an origin-based sales tax state, we collect 6.1% sales tax. If we have Nexus in your state and ship your item you will be charged your state and local sales tax unless one of the following applies
1. We ship to a sales tax-exempt state
2. You have a resale license. If you are a reseller please contact us and we will assist you with completing the Arizona sales tax exemption form. If you already made a purchase online, sales tax will be fully refunded once we receive your signed retail tax exemption form. Notify us in the comment section during your online checkout and we will further assist you. You are welcome to place an order by email or by calling us at 1-800-422-9382.
3. If you live outside of the US, you will not be charged US sales tax. However, your local customs office may charge you import/VAT taxes and or duties. Please check with your local customs office. Import taxes are handled directly between you and your local customs office and are not paid by the gallery.
Do you buy or consign art and antiques?
I just submitted items to sell using the form on your website. How long does it take to receive a reply?
We are a working gallery taking care of online and in house clients, and try to answer all submissions in a timely manner. If you do not see a response in your inbox, please check your spam/junk folder. If you find our email marked as “spam” or “junk," please mark us as “not spam” or “not junk.” This helps us greatly and others like you to receive our emails. If you do not receive a reply, please call us at 1-800-422-9382 to make sure we received your submission, and we will do our best to assist you.
How do you size bracelets?
US bracelet sizes reflect the inches going around the interior of the bracelet, including the gap. To measure your wrist take a soft tape measure and encircle your wrist or find a bracelet that fits you well and measure the interior circumference including the gap. Where the ends of the tape measure meet is your bracelet size. Here is a link to our YouTube video which may be helpful:How to Size a Native American Bracelet to Fit your Wrist
Where can I get turquoise jewelry evaluated and sold?
Medicine Man Gallery is always purchasing single pieces or entire collections. Highest prices paid. Interested in selling your Native American jewelry? Click here for a free jewelry evaluation or call us at 1.800.422.9382 or 520.722.7798
What is old pawn jewelry?
Old pawn Native American jewelry has been at the heart of the Southwest economy and culture for roughly 150 years. Its demand is greater than ever among collectors who want authentic jewelry that has actually been worn and coveted by the indigenous people who created it which is becoming scarcer and more valuable by the day.
The Navajo had traditionally measured their wealth in terms of livestock and blankets. However, after their release from four years of confinement at the Bosque de Redondo in 1868 they returned to a more sedentary lifestyle restricted to their reservation and needed new sources of income.
Atsidi Saani was the first Navajo who learned blacksmithing at Fort Defiance, Arizona, in the 1850s. In the 1870s he applied this knowledge to silversmithing and taught others these skills. The first Navajo silversmithing was applied to horse bridles, but quickly spread to bracelets and other forms of jewelry. Turquoise began showing up in Navajo jewelry in the 1880s, but sparingly at first. This was the same time that the railroads reached the Southwest and a market for Native American jewelry opened up selling to the new tourists coming to the area.
Much of this early Navajo handcrafted jewelry shows remarkable expert workmanship for the relatively simple tools the jewelers had at the time. They would work the metal with silversmithing tools made from the hardened steel springs of wagons, old iron files and chisels.
Silver jewelry making also spread to the Hopi and the other Pueblo peoples. The Zuni became extremely skilled at lapidary cutting – creating intricate delicate inlaid turquoise and coral designs on bracelets, belt buckles and pins.
Because Native Americans had no access to cash or banks on reservations, jewelry became a portable form wealth not only used on the reservation as barter, but as the widespread commodity of exchange with the traders for cash and supplies.
In times of need, Native American turquoise jewelry could be pawned to authorized agents and pawn shops that were springing up along the boundaries of the reservation. The lender would give the Native Americans credit using the pawned jewelry as collateral to guarantee that the loan would be repaid within a specified period of time – usually 90 days to one year. The rate of interest on the loan was regulated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at 10% a year. The terms of most loans were 120 days and could be renewed by paying the interest.
While 70-85% of the jewelry pawned in this manner was usually paid off and reclaimed, the items that were not were then known as “dead pawn”. After a certain grace period most traders would grant to maintain good relations with their Native American clients, the unclaimed jewelry would be placed on public display for sale to repay the dept. When family elders died, their jewelry was also often pawned in this manner to receive cash which could then be split up among the heirs.
What makes old pawn jewelry so special is that this is the jewelry the Native Americans made for themselves and wore as adornment and a display of wealth that was often passed down in families over generations. There would often be a lot of movement of jewelry in and out of the pawn shops during the summer ceremonies and dances as the pawn shops were also a way of keeping this jewelry safe for the Navajo - who were herders and moved with their flocks - much like putting one's money in a bank for safekeeping.
Authentic old pawn jewelry usually has a dark satin patina tarnish that has not been polished. The turquoise stones often have a greenish tinge that comes with wear taking on the oils of the skin. It’s exactly this natural antique wear from years of daily use and adornment in the dances and ceremonies - together with its heavy weight in thick ingot silver and that the turquoise is genuine natural turquoise which has not been “stabilized” or soaked in plastic to harden it - which is what gives old pawn jewelry such highly sought after demand and lasting value.Jewelry was a type of portable wealth for many Native Americans. Authorized traders and pawn shops acquired turquoise jewelry when it was used as collateral on loans that were not repaid after a specified amount of time.
Old pawn jewelry is not only valuable for its antique style and look, but because these are the older pieces that helps assure the turquoise stone was probably mined before the 1970s and so is genuine natural turquoise that has not been stabilized. “Ingot” jewelry is old pawn jewelry where the silver used to make the piece is from melted down silver dollars or silver pesos often found in concho belts, bracelets and belt buckles. Click to see the Medicine Man Gallery old pawn collection.
What is ingot silver jewelry?
The earliest Navajo silver jewelry started in the 1870s with ingot jewelry that was American silver dollars or Mexican silver pesos that were melted and hand hammered into silver jewelry. It became common at a certain point around the turn of the twentieth century for Native American laborers to demand their payment in silver coins they could turn into jewelry.
One of the things to look for authenticating early Navajo ingot jewelry is craquelure - which is a very fine kind of breakage that looks like spider webbing. This indicates the piece was not made from machine milled sheet metal, but was an ingot that was forged and hand hammered showing the impressions of the tool marks. Craquelure is a very important identifier of authenticity.
How are the words antique, old, vintage and contemporary used to describe Native American jewelry?
Antique generally refers to objects 100 years old, but in the Native American jewelry world there are grey areas when it comes to dating as the industry doesn’t have any specific standards. Most old pawn refers to jewelry that is 1940-50’s and older; in reality any piece that actually has a pawn ticket from the surrounding Navajo and Hopi reservation could be pawn even if it dates anywhere from the 1960-70. We consider vintage Native American jewelry to be from 1940 and before, antique would follow similar guidelines, but on the early spectrum. Contemporary is 1960 to present.
What gives turquoise its unique color and value?
Turquoise is a precipitant, a rock that forms from water passing through mineral rich earth where it becomes concentrated. Copper is what gives turquoise its blue color. The presence of iron and zinc makes it more green. Every mine has a unique look and color which is one reason being able to identify which mine a turquoise stone comes from is very important in determining the stone and the jewelry’s value. While other gemstones like diamonds are most valued for their purity, it’s the impurities in the cracks known as the “matrix” in the stone that gives it its unique character and value.
Bisbee turquoise can range from a very light blue all the way through to dark blue with a chocolate colored chert matrix that's what really brings it alive. Kingman is famous for its fine spider web matrix. Lander Blue is the most valuable turquoise today that has an amazing looking very dark deep blue color with lots of matrix. Other important mines are Number 8, Sleeping Beauty, Royston, Morenci that are important to be able to identify to know the authenticity and true value of the turquoise stone.
What is "genuine natural turquoise" and why is it more valuable?
Most of the early miners in the Southwest weren’t looking for turquoise. They were looking for gold, silver, copper and iron. Turquoise often ended up in the discarded tailings of these other mining attempts.
Once turquoise became more valuable much of the hard gem-quality stones that could be made into jewelry were becoming scarce by the early 1970s. A process called “stabilization” came into widespread practice where softer, chalkier turquoise was soaked in plastic to strengthen it and make it hard enough to be made into jewelry.
Genuine natural turquoise that can be authenticated as having been mined before the early 1970s - and so has not been stabilized or soaked in plastic - is far more valuable because most of the world’s most significant turquoise mines after that time have been depleted.
How can I tell if turquoise jewelry is genuine "natural turquoise" or "stabilized" when buying online?
Technical ways to determine if a piece of jewelry is genuine natural turquoise is to remove it from the bezel and put a jeweler’s grinding tool on the bottom of the stone and see if you can detect the smell of burning plastic. Another test is to tap it with your fingernail and see if it sounds like plastic or stone. Still another test is to look at the stone under a magnifying glass or loop and see if you can see what looks like a honey-colored tinge piling up in the cracks or matrix of the stone that is the plastic.
These methods are beyond the capability of most people evaluating jewelry who do not have physical possession of the piece – as when you are buying jewelry for sale online.
When buying online, the most important factor is to purchase from a reputable dealer of antique Native American jewelry. The seasoned professional can look at the total picture – the stone, the matrix, the texture, the style of jewelry, the wear - and comparing that with thousands of pieces they’ve held in their hands before in order to make an assessment.
J. Mark Sublette, owner of Medicine Man Gallery, has thirty years of experience dealing in Native American Jewelry fully guarantees the authenticity of every piece of jewelry we sell. Medicine Man Gallery is a member of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association which promotes the highest standards of authenticity and integrity.
Should I polish my silver?
Most collectors prefer not to polish their silver to keep the patina, as this shows age and helps the value of the piece. The works we sell are not polished. If, however, you wish to polish your silver, we recommend using a soft polishing cloth made for silver.
How do you prevent moth damage to a Navajo weaving?
To deter moths, you can use cedar, lavender, and similar moth repellent herbs, we do not recommend mothballs. To kill adult moths, we recommend using special pheromone traps. This will take a few life cycles to kill the adult moths. To kill moth larvae and eggs, freezing the weaving by placing in a waterproof bag for 72 hours is helpful and after the freeze consider sending your textile to a Navajo rug specialist for cleaning and moth-proofing. If you need a recommendation please contact us. For a detailed explanation about moth tips, watch our YouTube video.
How do you clean a Navajo rug?
Never clean a Navajo rug yourself. We recommend you use a professional rug cleaner that is familiar with Navajo wool. If you need a recommendation please contact us.
Why are Navajo blankets worth so much?
Navajo textile authority Dr. J. Mark Sublette explains why Navajo blankets are so valuable. In short, it comes down to three factors: scarcity, rarity, and artistry.
Navajo blankets are an older form of Navajo weavings, produced from around 1840-1890. These textiles were soft and drapable, meant to be wrapped around the body and worn - they are often called “wearing blankets” for this reason. (Note: Saddle blankets, a smaller and thicker type of weaving, are also highly collectible but don’t command the same price point as a wearing blanket.)
Navajo blankets are so valuable today for three reasons: rarity, scarcity, and artistry.
Even at the peak of production, Navajo weavings were hard to come by. A blanket could take a weaver up to a year to make - not including the amount of time it took to raise the sheep for the wool.
These blankets were highly valued trade items among tribes that did not have weaving traditions of their own. Even at that time, Navajo blankets were expensive to acquire, so only the most affluent tribe members could afford one.
Plains cultures, in particular, valued Navajo blankets for their warmth, comfort, and visual beauty. A man on horseback wearing one of these weavings could be identified by the design of his blanket before his face’s features came into view.
In terms of the Navajo weaving traditions, Navajo wearing blankets were only made for about 50 years. The end of the era came as mechanical weaving technologies advances signaled the end of the art form as affordable commercial blankets such as those produced by Pendleton Woolen Mills became widely available.
Early blankets from the mid-1800s are the rarest, with some forms only having 50 or so known surviving examples.
The rarity of Navajo blankets makes them highly prized by collectors, many of whom consider a fine Navajo blanket to be the cornerstone of their collection. The combination of rarity and collector enthusiasm is reflected in the high prices of these textiles.
In terms of visual appeal, Navajo blankets have a level of artistic sophistication that rivals any form of modern art. Whether simple bold stripes, as seen in early blanket examples, or complex “eyedazzler” geometric patterns when synthetic dyes became available, Navajo blankets are studies in balance, composition, and contrast.
What makes Navajo textiles all the more breathtaking is how simple the tools are that the weavers would use to create them. The looms are simple, usually erected out-of-doors, under a tree branch. Patterns were (and still are) plotted in the weaver’s head - to execute a harmonious design requires expert artistic ability and multidimensional thinking.
In terms of artisanship, all Navajo weavings are painstaking, manual endeavors. As is common even today, the weaver’s family raised the sheep; caring for the flock was a family affair. Early Navajo weavings were usually made from special wool from the Churro sheep breed - known for its long, silky fibers. Later, as the Navajo moved into making rugs, they incorporated other sheep varieties into their flocks.
After shearing the sheep, the wool is cleaned, carded, and spun by hand. Even today, Navajo weavers do not use spinning wheels; the wool is stretched and twisted onto a spindle by hand. Then the blanket is woven on the unique Navajo loom.
As mentioned before, a fine blanket could take the weaver up to a year to make.
Why are Navajo rugs so expensive?
Making an authentic Navajo rug is a labor-intensive process for the weaver. In addition to raising the sheep (which many of the weavers still do), the wool must be shorn, cleaned, carded, spun, and sometimes, dyed. Weaving a large rug can take a year or more.
One thing to keep in mind is that, aside from the actual hands-on time needed to weave a Navajo rug, it often can take a weaver years to become proficient at weaving in the first place. Girls, and sometimes boys, usually start learning as children and progress in difficulty as they learn.
Important factors that impact an authentic Navajo rug's price are the fineness of the yarn and weave, the size, and the design. Navajo rugs are woven on the same kind of simple loom that has been in use by the Navajo for 300 years - so complex, balanced designs are a true testament to the weaver’s skill and artistry.
What is a weft and warp count?
A weft and warp count lets you know the tightness of a weaving. A warp and weft count is measured by how many warp yarns (foundation yarns) and how many weft yarns (the design of the weaving) are in one inch.
How can you tell if a Navajo rug is authentic?
A common issue for new collectors is determining if a Navajo rug is authentic. Knowing what to look for is especially crucial because weavings from Mexico can resemble Navajo rugs and can confuse a novice. Beware, especially, a weaving described as “Navajo style.” This term lets you know that you are looking at a Mexican reproduction and not an authentic Navajo rug.
So, how can you tell the difference?
First, authentic Navajo rugs are made with a unique style of vertical loom that uses a continuous warp, which means the base wool yarn that is used isn’t cut off at the ends; instead, the warp thread goes from the bottom of the loom to the top, and then loops down to the bottom, then loops to the top and so on. The warp yarn creates the foundation of the Navajo rug, whereas the weft yarn creates the design pattern.
Mexican looms are horizontally oriented and use multiple pieces of warp threads that are fringed on the ends. If you see fringed ends, you are likely looking at a Mexican-made rug with individual warp threads instead of a Navajo rug made with one, long continuous warp. (This rule does not always hold, though. Some early Navajo “Germantown” style weavings may have added fringe.)
The absence of fringe still might not mean you are looking at a Navajo rug or blanket, though. Sometimes, Mexican weavers will tuck the warp ends in to make it look continuous, even if it is not. In these cases, the weaving is usually thicker at the ends and then thins out.
Second, look for the presence of “lazy lines.” A lazy line is a diagonal, 45-degree angle line formed as the Navajo weaver creates the rug. The presence of one can be a diagnostic characteristic of an authentic Navajo rug (although knock-off rugs also try to have similar looking lines in the weave).
A lazy line is formed as the weaver works. The weaver sits in front of the loom and works in a section, weaving in the weft yarn in the desired pattern. The weaver then moves over and works on another section. By working in this way, it creates these beautiful lines in the body of the rug.
The key thing to remember is that if you are uncomfortable or unsure whether a rug you are considering is an authentic Navajo rug, do not buy it. Instead, work with a reputable dealer you can trust to ensure that you are looking at an authentic Navajo rug.
For more information on how to identify an authentic Navajo rug, please click here to watch the educational video.
How do I clean my Pueblo pot?
Using a very soft non-scratch cloth. We do not recommend using water or liquid cleaners. Please be sure to always handle your Pueblo pot with two hands and make sure you have removed any rings to prevent scratches. Do not grab a pot by the rim; this puts pressure on the rim and may cause it to crack.
How do I clean my basket?
Because of age and fragility it is best to leave baskets alone. If you feel it is necessary you can try using a soft brush or a soft cloth with a very light touch. We do not recommend using water or any kind of liquid cleaners. Please be sure to always handle your basket with two hands and never pick up a basket by the edge, as it may cause breakage.
When purchasing a contemporary lithograph/giclee/serigraph from one of your artists, is there a difference in value from edition number 1 to the last one in the edition?
No, with the current printing processes for contemporary art, each numbered print in an edition is the same quality, from the first to the last.