Taxco Bracelets and The History of Taxco Silver Jewelry
The city of Taxco truly deserves its status as one of Mexico’s “pueblos mágicos.” Perched atop a hill, the city is a tangle of cobblestone streets, picturesque red-roofed houses, and silver workshops. These silver workshops are the birth places of the beautiful, expressive Taxco earrings that local Latino artisans create using local silver; these works of art are indeed magical.
When visiting Taxco, it may seem like the many family workshops have been around forever. However, the truth is a little more complicated. While indigenous people did mine the surrounding hills, they focused mainly on gold and precious stones. Silver mining did not gain much importance until the colonial period.
When the Spanish colonized Mexico, they sent most of the gold, silver, and gems they discovered back to the old world. This town became an important silver mining center, but artisans made only a few religious items locally using the Taxco sterling silver.
As more Europeans settled in Mexico, the demand for jewelry grew and it became more and more common for people to buy the work of Mexican artisans, rather than jewelry imported from Spain. During this period, jewelry design influences came from Spanish culture. Filigree work was quite common. However, as in pre-Colonial times, gold remained the preferred material for jewelry, and silver was used for household objects and religious items.
Having silver jewelry was actually considered a mark of low class! This began to change only after the price of gold rose dramatically, causing many people to turn to silver instead. During the Mexican War of Independence, wealthy landowners destroyed many of Taxco’s silver mines in order to prevent the revolutionaries from using them. As a result, the art of making silver bracelets and other silver objects died out. When the mines finally reopened, the local artisans were all gone.
Taxco Earrings and The Taxco Jewelry Revival
In the 1930s, an American named William Spratling engineered the resurrection of the Taxco silver tradition. He brought in expert artisans to train the local people, and he encouraged them to create their own designs based on Mexican history and culture.
When people refer to a vintage Taxco bracelet, they mean a piece from this period. With Spratling’s help, artisanal silver once again became the lifeblood of the Taxco economy. Today, Taxco silver jewelry inspires a great deal of tourism as people from around the world come to acquire silver jewelry at the many silver shops and watch skilled artisans at work in their “talleres” or workshops.
Even if you can’t make the trip to Taxco, you can still marvel at the many wonderful examples of Taxco silver pendants and earrings and and enjoy learning about the symbolism of various pieces.
For example, many pieces use Mayan and Aztec symbols such as jaguars, eagles, and quetzals. If that’s too bold for you, a simple Taxco bracelet using geometric patterns or plain lines might better. Whatever your style, there’s sure to be a Taxco bracelet to suit you!
Hispanic tradition goes a long way when you have a piece you can wear that is elegant and reflects your roots. If earrings from Taxco are not exaclty your style try other Latin silver earrings instead.
Look for other Latin handcrafted jewelry. These pieces have indigenous inspirations with a touch of modern pizzaz, especially those made in Peru, Mexico and Guatemala. You can also complement your earrings with Taxco pendants which are handmade by the same artisans who create the bracelets and the earrings.