Frequently Asked Questions
"Is this a Native American owned business?"
Aoo’, Diné niidlį́. Yes, we are both enrolled members of the Diné (Navajo) tribe.
"How did this company start?"
Kotah Bear was established in 2013. As newlyweds, when making trips from where we live in Utah to the Navajo Nation (NM & AZ specifically) to visit family, we would have many requests to bring back jewelry. We quickly realized that supporting Native American artisans, being surrounded by beautiful items, and meeting new friends are things we are both very passionate about! We feel blessed to share our finds with you in person at various events and via this website.
"Is the name taken from the movie ‘Brother Bear’?"
Kotah Bear is a childhood nickname and not inspired by the 2003 Disney movie. The name Kotah is from the Sioux, meaning friend.
"Can you resize a ring?"
We can resize a ring for an additional $15.00. In some cases, a ring cannot be resized due to the design. If this is the case, we will let you know or advise such in the product description. If you are not sure of your size, please stop by your local jeweler to double check.
"Are the items new?"
All of the items we sell are new make authentic Native American handmade items, unless otherwise specified as “pawn” or "vintage" to demonstrate a prior owner and age. Items specified as "vintage" are not always Native American handmade, but we do our best to research and specify their make.
"What materials are used?"
Unless otherwise specified, our handmade Native American jewelry items are made using genuine turquoise, lab created or stimulated opal, and sterling silver.
The terms “silver” and “sterling silver” are used interchangeably on the site. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. On extremely rare occasions these other metals can interact with one's body chemistry and discolor the wearer. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925, however the 925 stamp is typically not used in Native American jewelry. A stamp of the artisans initials, name, or the word ‘sterling’ is used instead. Sterling silver is utilized in jewelry making as pure silver is quite soft and unsuitable for jewelry.
Natural/precious opal (hydrated amorphous form of silica/quartz; its water content may range from 3 to 21% by weight) is typically never used in Native American jewelry. Natural/precious opal is quite scarce, expensive, and prone to breakage due to the high water content. Lab created opal is considered a true synthetic or created opal – produced in controlled laboratory conditions and with the same chemical composition as natural/precious opal but with a very low water content, enabling artists to more easily utilize this beautiful gemstone in inlay and other complex pieces. Stimulated opal is different chemically from natural or lab opal. It is made up of 80% silica and 20% resin and is an economical option to both natural/precious and lab created opal.
The other components as named in the product description and title are to the best of our knowledge genuine. We are not certified gemologists.
"How to care for my Native American jewelry?"
Take care to remove your inlay rings and jewelry when washing your hands, bathing, showering, doing the dishes etc. Inlay items are made of many small pieces of stone and shell that are affixed to a backing and to each other. Getting inlay wet, such as in a dishpan or shower, would allow water to get under the inlay which will weaken and loosen it. This is not a good idea and will shorten the wearable life of the item considerably.
You can avoid tarnish by wearing your jewelry often. The oils in your skin will “clean” the silver and keep it looking shiny. For some pieces, the artisan will intentionally allow or treat the sterling silver so it will darken and oxidize, allowing certain areas to stand out more. This detailing can be lost with excessing cleaning and polishing, so be careful with your items that are purposefully oxidized.
It’s safe to surface clean turquoise jewelry with a damp microfiber cloth, being careful not to immerse or soak the piece, as some Native American pieces use a traditional method of laying the stones on a soft bed of sawdust to prevent breakage. Most turquoise jewelry should never be cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Turquoise is generally stable to light, but high heat can cause discoloration and surface damage. It can be discolored by chemicals, cosmetics, and even skin oils or perspiration. If you notice a turquoise or other stone coming lose after wear, as sterling silver is a fairly soft metal, take the back side of a spoon and gently tighten the bezel by pressing the silver back around the stone.
While storing necklaces or bolo ties, make sure to lay them flat, taking care not to curl the item so they will hang nicely when worn.
Contact with household chemicals, perspiration, rubber, chlorinated water, or any substances which contain sulfur (e.g., mayonnaise, eggs, mustard, onions, latex, wool), will cause corrosion and tarnish — so it’s a good idea to remove silver jewelry when doing household chores. Direct sunlight also causes silver to tarnish, so be sure to take off your silver jewelry before you go swimming and sunbathing.
Lotions, cosmetics, hair spray and hair products, and perfumes are also “enemies” of silver and will accelerate tarnishing, so it is a great idea to put on your jewelry as a last step to getting ready!
As exposure to air tarnishes it, storing silver in airtight plastic bags with anti-tarnish strips is a great preventative measure. Just make sure you don’t store multiple jewelry pieces in the same bag: silver is a soft metal, so the individual pieces can scratch each other. Link or chain bracelets should be kept unclasped or unhooked to prevent scratching as well. If you can’t use plastic bags, try to make sure that the storage area has low humidity. You can also place a piece of chalk, a packet of activated charcoal, or a container of silica gel in the storage area to minimize tarnish.
You can use a special silver cloth to polish your items, but a lint-free flannel, microfiber, or other soft nonabrasive cloth will do as well. Do not use paper towels or tissues to polish your jewelry as they contain fibers that can scratch the silver. Simply polishing your silver works well when the tarnishing is not too severe. It’s also the best method for cleaning oxidized silver, as you can stay away from the intentionally tarnished areas. Take special care not to polish the stones in your jewelry while polishing the silver as this may affect their appearance.
When polishing, use long back-and-forth motions that mirror the grain of the silver. Do not rub in circles, as this will magnify any tiny scratches. Also, change to a different section of your cloth frequently to avoid placing tarnish back on the silver. You can use a Q-tip to get into small, detailed areas. But if your pieces are heavily tarnished and you don’t have the time to clean them, take them to a professional silver cleaner. Very old, fragile, or valuable pieces should also be cleaned by a professional.
Your Native American jewelry, when properly cared for with respect and common sense, will bring you enjoyment and beauty for many years to come!
"What does it mean?"
There are many reoccurring themes, motifs, and designs found in authentic Native American jewelry, however with each individual piece the symbolism, interpretation, and design thereof is exclusively the creative license of the individual artisan.
"Do you offer other services?"
If you are looking for a particular style of item and we do not currently have it in stock, please contact us and we will do our best to find it for you! Please note we do not accept offers, do free appraisals, free research, put you in touch with the artists, sell wholesale, or answer weight questions.
"What is your return policy?"
We definitely want to make sure you are happy with your purchase! If you are not satisfied, our jewelry comes with a 14 day return policy. Email us at email@example.com so we can start the return process.
You will be responsible for return shipping costs. Items must be returned in the condition they were received and in the original packaging, for maximum protection of the item. We are unable to provide a refund if the item has been altered or damaged during return shipment.Some items are exempt from being returned:
Kotah Bear Plush Blankets
Once your return is received, we will send you an email to notify you that we have received your returned item. Then your refund will be applied to your original method of payment and should post to your account within 2 - 7 business days.
Late or missing refunds
If you haven’t received a refund yet, first check your bank account again. Then contact your credit card company, it may take some time before your refund is posted to your account due to processing time. Next contact your bank. If you’ve done all of this and you still have not received your refund yet, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only regular priced items may be refunded, unfortunately sale items cannot be refunded.
We have a very limited quantity of each item, so exchanges are tricky. We can only try to exchange an item if they were received as damaged. If your item was damaged upon receipt send us an email at KotahBearCares@kotahbear.com and send your item to: 347 River Meadow Dr Alpine, Utah 84004 USA.
To return your product, you should mail your product to: 347 River Meadow Dr Alpine, Utah 84004 USA in the original packaging. You will be responsible for paying for your own shipping costs for returning your item. If you are shipping an item over $50, you may consider using a trackable shipping service or purchasing shipping insurance.