The T.Skies Co-op is a collaborative, non-profit workshop where Native American jewelers can learn, work and develop business and marketing skills. We also develop programs for youth in local indigenous communities to promote education in our trade. Programs are designed to provide specialty trade school opportunities for high school and college students, as well as on the job experience, and job placement in the jewelry industry.
1. Reduce High School dropout rate on the reservation.
2. Train Native American jewelers to be competitive in the modern jewelry job market.
3. Help jewelers find jobs in the industry and help them establish their own business.
4. Protect the authenticity of Native American arts and culture.
Meet the Hands and Hearts behind your Jewelry
We want you to see the artists behind your jewelry. We interview artists in their homes and workshops to share their stories and culture. We produce videos, articles, and photography to immerse you in this beautiful community. Our collection features only authentic, handmade Native American jewelry of the highest quality.
We also help artists market their work, and voices effectively. Our signature lines blend modern techniques with traditional designs. The profit we make allows our artists to create high-end, one-of-a-kind pieces of art in a safe, collaborative and well-equipped environment.
To preserve the future (and quality) of Native American cultural jewelry.
Like everything else, Native American art has changed over time. While working in the industry over the last decade we have witnessed change, and recently noticed a huge problem. Native American art is being manufactured for mass-market consumption in foreign countries such as China, India and the Philippines. This has gone from a problem to a serious issue as it continues to devalue Native American art, jewelry, and culture.
We make an enormous effort to:
How Our Non-Profit Operates
We put donations to work to support our mission to empower Native American artists.
High School Recruitment
Turquoise Skies actively seeks to work with high schools in indigenous communities, sharing with students the potential for affordable college education and job opportunities. Working with CNM, we can offer students help with the acceptance into the jewelry program and even grant scholarship opportunities.
CNM Jewelry Program at Fuse Maker Space
CNM offers an affordable option for Native American students. The jewelry program teaches the fundamental skills needed to be a jeweler in the industry. (Less the cost of tools and materials, classes will almost be free.) We hope to address these expenses with scholarships.
Read our review of this program here!
Students from the CNM campus can apply to join the co-op as interns while in the Jewelry program. The goal of the internship is to teach new and upcoming jewelers real-world experience in manufacturing and sales as well as enhancing skill sets that are sought after by companies in the industry. With these assets, the jeweler has a competitive edge in the job market. We want to offer both school credit and paid opportunities for interns.
Continued Co-op Membership
Jewelers may continue with Turquoise Skies as members of the co-op. These jewelry artists will continue to gain real-world jewelry experience through manufacturing for the local jewelry gallery as well as wholesale to stores around the world and online.
Jewelers will be encouraged to design their own pieces for both the gallery and wholesale markets. They will have the opportunity to sell these pieces in the gallery and at co-op funded shows.
The new jewelers generally do things like polishing, finishing off the jewelry, learning the mixtures of pickle acid, and fire barrier protection for jewelry, etc. They will clean up in the shop and keep the workspace clean and organized. They are also responsible for making sure there are sufficient materials in stock. Although this may seem insignificant, the knowledge of these things will carry over to being a professional jeweler.
Learning about polishing, how to be fast and learning the different unique properties of different metals and how they polish will be an essential focus. New jewelers will also clean up castings.
Once these new jewelers have developed basic skills, they will be eligible to test for certification as a C-AA level jeweler. Each level of jeweler increases with skills and abilities. AA is the highest level and most skilled. We intend to align our level system with the industry standard. To be certified, jewelers must be proficient, with a baseline set of skills as well as be tested for quality and speed.
Careers and Job Placement
This C-AA level system is used for hiring by large corporations in the industry, such as Jared, Kay and other large companies. T.Skies actively contacts these companies to help our jewelers apply in the competitive market.
Not all jewelers want to work for a corporation. Those who want to start their own businesses have access to a range of resources at the co-op including business consulting, photography, graphic design and other marketing services.
Precious natural gemstones have been valued throughout history. These stones have spiritual, cultural and economic value. For these reasons, they are subject to imitated with lower quality or synthetic materials. We have noticed a huge increase in the misrepresentation of turquoise and other precious gemstones over the years. Unethical sellers in the industry have been selling fake and imitation stones as natural quality.
We are committed to fighting misrepresentation in the marketplace because we respect the value of natural materials and precious gemstones. For this reason, we have created resources such as guides, artist profiles, and educational blog posts. Feel free to review these before making a purchase.
Art is culture. Jewelry is our art.
“If I cannot speak, then my story cannot be heard” – Sam Manygoats
All items sold on our shop are of the highest quality. Our commitment to transparency about the quality of the material used is how we build trust in the community. Artists and dealers can list their work on this site themselves and you will be buying art from them.
We promise to:
- Sell jewelry directly from authentic Native American artists and reputable Native American art dealers.
- Use decades of industry expertise to identify and avoid the work of artists or dealers using low-quality materials or stolen designs.
- Provide information about the artists and dealers we work with.
You can help us by purchasing jewelry from legitimate sources, spreading the word, following us on social media and interacting with our community.
Our Priority is Our Community
Our Non-Profit’s mission is to maintain the quality and authenticity of Native American jewelry and make the industry as transparent as possible. We do this by promoting authenticity in the market, and catering opportunities for new and existing Native American jewelers.
How do we help artists sell their work?
- We offer a well-equipped, collaborative and safe shared workspace.
- We offer free and low-cost marketing services, tailored to suit each artist’s unique needs.
- Our in-house gallery displays work by artists, year round!
- A portion of the profit made from the jewelry sold in our gallery also goes back to the non-profit to fund the booth costs for the industry’s most desirable shows.
How do we educate the market?
- Our marketing team maintains a website and active blog to create new and engaging content on a regular basis.
- We post new content on social media every day! Our large following is excited to learn more about Native American jewelry and the artists behind their favorite pieces.
What opportunities do we offer highschool students?
We are proud to offer scholarships to young aspiring jewelers to attend select jewelry- making programs. We’re committed to making the transition from high school to trade school and college jewelry programs as easy as possible. Interested in learning more? Please email sheyenne@tskies for more information.
What other programs do we offer for young artists?
The T.Skies apprenticeship provides on-the-job training and valuable marketing and business information. We are able to certify jewelers with industry-standard skills and offer an internship for credit at CNM. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in learning more!
Do we offer job and career services for artists?
We’re happy to help our artists find job opportunities in the industry. Whether you would like to start your own business or start a career in a nationally recognized jewelry store, we are there to help and advise you every step along the way!