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Authentic turquoise jewelry online sale is Sunday from Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Market 54 and The Copper Feather owner Karin Koehn wears her authentic Native American-made turquoise jewelry proudly, and looks forward to sharing similar finds with others on Sunday, September 13 in a Facebook Live show event.

Experiencing a different culture and shopping for fine jewelry doesn’t always involve physical travel and deep expense. Karin Koehn, owner of Market 54, a vendor craft and gift store at 209 S. Main in Pratt, has friends in Ruidoso, New Mexico, who along with some of their friends, make authentic Native American turquoise jewelry. 

On Sunday, September 13, Koehn, along with business partner Karen Hampton, will host an online jewelry party featuring unique turquoise and silver pieces selling at discounted prices, and those interested in viewing and buying that sort of cultural item, won’t even have to leave their living rooms.

“I’ve always had a little bit of this handmade jewelry available here at the store,” Koehn said. “But this is the first time we will offer it in a Facebook Live event, and there will be some pieces that are just not going to be found elsewhere. This is not costume jewelry or copycat items. These are made by members of the Navaho and Zuni indian tribes, most of whom live in Gallup or Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

Koehn, who markets the new branch of turquoise jewelry sales in her store as The Copper Feather, said the way to verify if a piece of turquoise jewelry was authentic and made from natively-mined turquoise rock, or if it was fake, was to test it with a cotton ball moistened with fingernail polish remover.

“If it turns blue or green when rubbed with a cotton ball that has been soaked in fingernail polish, then the piece is a fake,” Koehn said. “Also, the surface of the authentic turquoise might have a roughness to it, or even cracks. It starts out as a plain fossil-looking rock, with little holes and cracks in it. But once it is cleaned, shaped and polished, it just becomes a beautiful piece of native art.”

Koehn said there are laws that are supposed to protect the Native American turquoise art-makers, but some individuals, mostly Americans, have found ways around those rules and create their own type of fake jewelry for their own profit.

She also said most Native American-made jewelry is stamped with the artist’s name or nickname for further authentication.

“Sadly, many of the Native American arts, like jewelry making, are being lost, because the younger generation in their tribes have no interest in becoming jewelry makers. They are more interested in finding successful jobs in industry, business or health fields,” Koehn said. “The artists I work with are getting older and older, and there are fewer young people coming along to keep up the traditions.”

Koehn said her Market 54 Live jewelry party would feature pearl-stone bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and pendents in a wide variety of turquoise and silver designs.

“We have lined up different types from White Buffalo, Spiny Oyster and Kingman, to name a few,” she said. “I am keeping the prices between $20-$400 for this first show, because there are some that can be worth up to $40,000 (Squash Blossom) but we are not going there yet.”

With Hampton modeling the items and Koehn giving the descriptions, customers will be able to see how the turquoise jewelry looks before they make a purchase.

“We decided to do a live show because sometimes it is hard to determine the size, or how the item hangs just from still pictures,” Koehn said.

The Market 54 and The Copper Feather jewelry event may be accessed on Koehn’s Facebook page by that same name, with the Facebook Live sale starting at 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

“I hope this is the first of many such shows,” she said. “It gives my friends a new outlet for their hard work, and it gives all of us a chance to experience some cultural diversity and beauty here in Pratt.”