SHOPPING FOR JEWELRY IN MEXICO
Taxco, which is about two hours from Acapulco, is the capital of hand-made silver jewelry. In Taxco, local artisans make their jewelry by hand. Most of the artisans have a small business and many create original designs that may be copied. There are about 1,000 stores in Taxco, so persistence will help in finding the lowest prices and finest quality. Most items are designed and hand-made on site, with no machines or modern plants.
For those who find interesting jewelry in Taxco, it’s acceptable to offer a lower price to see if a deal can be made. Sometimes, merchants will first lower the price to initiate a possible sale. It’s common for bartering to occur in order to ultimately get the item at a small fraction of the initial price.
Be courteous and respectful when purchasing Mexican jewelry. The local merchants are generally friendly and Mexican culture calls for respect and kindness. Haggling is allowed in the markets but it’s much more subdued than other cultures.
QUALITY SILVER JEWELRY IS COMMON IN MEXICO
Good silver in Mexico generally will not show any scrapes, scratches or show any defects. Silver typically comes in two options, .925 or .950, the lower of the number, the less the quality.
The .925 silver is worn daily and is classified as “everyday jewelry”. This blend is generally 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper or another element. Adding copper to the mixture makes silver more durable and heavier than the .950 silver. The .925 blend is also considered clunky silver.
When silver is classified as .950, it is 95% silver and 5% alloy. With 5% alloy, the metal is softer. Most high-end jewelry is made with this grade. When looking for fancier pieces of jewelry look for .950.
It is unusual to find the .999 silver jewelry, except among silver coins. Because .999 silver is very soft, it doesn’t make good jewelry. Artisans generally avoid this soft metal since working with it can be difficult.
It is important to trust ones judgment when purchasing jewelry. Those who make a large, or less significant, purchase often trust their intuition and instinct.
Although tour guides may steer tourists to their favorite stores, and some of these well-known stores can assure that buyers receive quality merchandise, buyers may find the same quality and a lower price with a small, family-run store.
Planning and research are invaluable. Be ready to take the time to look for jewelry because it helps reduce any anxiety when making the purchase. With some planning, and the knowledge gained through research, one can know what he or she wants and not feel pressured to buy.
It is very easy to find jewelry shops in big cities; visitors may find stereotypical Mexican jewelry on TV and in the movies. However, small stores with simple handmade designs and shapes can be found near the larger jewelry shops.
MEXICAN JEWELRY AND SILVER
Many find Mexican jewelry and silver are the same. It is common to include silver to improve the beauty of precious stones and gold accessories. Mexican artisans are very good at creating jewelry in many forms and textures. In some parts of Mexico, silver is blended with large amounts of rhodium. This blend makes silver thicker with a darker finish; it is often called white gold.
Style and design are important aspects of all jewelry shopping. Many artists create a culturally distinct style that brings in elements of the ancient symbols while incorporating some modern religious aspects. This dual philosophy is very common among artisans.
While the majority of Mexican jewelers construct their wares out of silver, Mexican jewelry has long made use of a range of interesting materials. For example, tin or gold can be used instead of silver and turquoise. Glass beads often produce interesting colors. For centuries, jewelers in Mexico have relied on coral and abalone. Jewelers may place gold or tin in cabochons (blue/green resin mum-like flower) in simple bezels. Also, some artisans use leather and dried flowers as accents in Mexican jewelry.
Much of the jewelry of Mexico is created with silver. Plan ahead. Research and choose a favorite style and composition to enjoy the purchase of great Mexican jewelry at a great price.