Turquoise Skies believes in the future of authentic, handcrafted Native American art. Our mission is to protect and preserve both the artists and the materials used to produce these treasured pieces. As a company, we believe it’s important to provide customers with accurate information on the history and culture of Native people, offer them access to skilled artists, and a way to help preserve these treasures. Along with amazing handmade jewelry available for purchase, our website is filled with intimate looks at artists at work, interviews with individuals in the industry and articles on the culture and traditions of Native people.
The evolution of our mission has come through observation of changes and challenges in the industry. Today’s Native artists face a huge threat to their work, and their income. Native American art is being outsourced to foreign countries such as China, India, and the Philippines. Sweatshops are often set up to mass produce the designs and machine make the elements. These workers receive next to nothing in pay for their work while the business owner reaps huge profits from the lowered cost of materials and labor. Unethical dealers can flood the market with cheap imitations, leaving the handcrafted work of true Native artists to compete with an inferior product. Many even represent their mass-produced items as true handcrafted Native American pieces, creating a black mark on the issue of authenticity.
Even the individual elements used by Native artisans face this threat. Turquoise is a natural gemstone, valued by societies all over the world for thousands of years. As the mining of turquoise has decreased the supply of the gemstone over the years, the value of the remaining stones has increased. This value is being threatened by the use of cheaper quality stones in what is billed as high quality, authentic Native American jewelry.
There is also the concern of synthetic materials formed to appear like natural turquoise. Rather than purchasing a beautiful, quality piece of jewelry which will last, buyers are finding they own inferior items which fall apart or become dulled in a short time. This has made some buyers wary of the market, not wishing to spend their money on a product of low quality.
Competition from these lower quality, mass-produced items also makes it harder for Native artists to stay in the market. Buying authentic supplies and investing the time needed to produce a genuine, handcrafted piece of jewelry requires receiving enough money for their work to continue to produce high quality pieces. Without those prices, many artists are finding it difficult to sell what they make or continue in the industry at all.
There is a way to resolve this problem, and at Turquoise Skies we strive to be part of that solution. Native artists need help marketing their work and getting their voice out into the community. This is an area where Turquoise Skies can help. Our website offers artists the opportunity to connect with buyers, and the chance to tell their story. We want you to see the face of the artist. Through our videos, articles, and photographs, we take you into the homes and workshops of Native artists, giving you the opportunity to listen and become immersed in this beautiful community. To us, allowing the artists themselves to control their own work, their own expressions of their culture, is the best way to preserve those traditions.
To this end, we at Turquoise Skies commit to offering authentic, handmade Native American art of the highest quality. Every piece will be documented and identified with the artist who created it. We will make the industry as transparent as possible, and support Native artists through offering them a place to tell their stories.
We look to you to help us with this endeavor. Our passion for helping the Native American art and craft industry is real, but we cannot do it alone. Your support is vital. Buy authentic Native American jewelry and art. Help us preserve this creative tradition for the future.
To learn more about our live shows and to purchase authentic Native American jewelry, click here.