There is a long history of authentic Native American jewelry made from sterling silver, turquoise, lapis and other fine minerals. Castle Gap Jewelry, one of Dallas’ last remaining Native American jewelers, has stood as a pillar of this tradition within the community for decades.
Since 1973, when Native American jewelry began dominating the fashion scene, Castle Gap Jewelry has grown into a local hotspot, attracting customers with its standard of quality and authenticity. Although the trend for Native American jewelry has been reshaped several times since the store’s opening, Castle Gap’s classic and culturally rich aesthetic has kept it popular and in demand long after many of its competitors have shut down.
Each piece sold at the jeweler (categories range from pendants to bolo ties to cuff links, and more) is handpicked from the Native American artist communities that populate the Four Corners area. Traveling hundreds of miles just to ensure that the pieces they select are of the highest quality, the Castle Gap team evaluates the work of these artists through their craftsmanship, creativity and technique.
The company strictly adheres to its “sterling silver only” policy, opting to carry only this softer metal due to its subtle warmth and the skilled craftsmanship needed to mold the silver into intricate designs. Castle Gap’s founder, Maxine Bennett, says: “Our jewelry has a warmth and beauty not found in manufactured jewelry. There is a difference that people notice.”
Not only does the jewelry have to match Castle Gap’s high standard of quality, but the artists themselves must convince the buyers of their dedication and passion for the craft as well. The team holds immense pride in their mission to support deserving artisans within the Native American communities and celebrates the cultures’ appreciation for individuality. Castle Gap Jewelry’s passion for promoting the continuation of time-honored, wearable Native American art forms shines through in every aspect of the company’s buying operations.
Founded by mother and son duo Maxine and Scotty Bennett, and later joined by Maxine’s daughter Beverly, this is a true family business from top to bottom. Originally from West Texas, the Bennetts grew up searching for treasure in the Castle Gap pass within the Castle Mountains where, according to folklore, up to eight separate treasures were buried through the decades. Named for this region, the store is not only the family’s personal treasure, but also holds treasure within for every customer who walks through the door.
After 43 years, the company’s operational responsibilities are delegated between the three original owners and long-time employees Laura Thompsen, showroom manager, and Sherry Ward, marketing manager. The close-knit bond between members of the Castle Gap Jewelry team is evident in the family oriented success of the company and further accentuates their emphasis on customer comfort. In the end, their concurrent goals are to support the Native American jewelry industry through ensured quality and to provide personalized customer service.
Customers can be certain that Castle Gap Jewelry will continue to be an influential force in the Dallas fine jewelry market for years to come. “This business will always be in the Castle Gap family to ensure the quality of jewelry and service,” says Beverly Bennett. As long as Castle Gap Jewelry is in the picture, Dallas is sure to keep its sense of cultural depth well intact.
Joanne Xu is a part-time freelance writer and blogger living in Frisco, Texas.