Yup'ik Fine Jewelry

Yes, back in 1990 this was new. This stuff was brand new in Yup'ik tundra. I was leafing through my past illustrations and ideas in the early 90's, and discovered I had taken a leap of faith. With strong humble determination one can open blessings in disguise.

In 1990-1994, I started a small Yup'ik Fine Jewery shop in Tununak. A marriage of silver, gold, brass, whale baleen, mastodon. walrus ivory and porcupine quills. All mixed media. This was the first time anyone in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta had ever seen or produced.

I renovated a tiny workshop 12' wide and 16' long. By reusing usable lumber and building material. I hired Charlie Post and Joseph Inakak working with me for special events before the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Camai Festival. Charlie Post had studied with me at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, in Metalsmithing under Glenn Simpson. I found the original photo copy of the black and white illustrations that showed prices and descriptions of each work we produced.

The jewelry was very popular, as people had never seen anything like them. A briefcase of inventory would be enough to pay for the cost of operations. Some ladies would wait ahead of time to see the latest collections before I would even set up. The price of the Yup'ik Fine Jewelry ranged from a silver Inlayed ring at $65 or an $800 gold wedding band, and up to $200 for pair of mask earrings. Several patterns of design with Inlayed ivory dots on black whale baleen or the opposite Inlayed baleen dots on ivory.

Although ivory in Alaska produced by Native hands is legitimate, the marketability faces a direct influence. Many carvers in Alaska depend on the legitimate walrus ivory carvings to support family in the remotest places.

To protect the elephant species, international governments and the United States enacted legislation that places certain restrictions, adherence, purchase. transport, trade or inheritance of ivory.

On July 6, 2016, a near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory went into effect in the United States. ... African elephants are being poached at unprecedented levels to supply the illegal ivory trade, and the United States is among the largest markets for illegal ivory.

The new regulations does not restrict personal possession of ivory. If you already own ivory – an heirloom carving that’s been passed down in your family, or a vintage musical instrument with ivory components, those pieces are still yours.  If they were possessed before the threat of poaching and legislation.

Endangered Species Act final 4(d) rule for the African elephant

Before those restrictions, the majority of my customer base were Alaska Native women.

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John Oscar Works Arts and Crafts; Fine Arts Painting Portfolio; Alaska Native American Designs and Patterns; Alaska Native Artist Items For Sale.