April 01, 2020

How Did Handmade Silver Jewelry Start in Taxco

William Spratling's iconic owl brooch

This Is How It All Started In Taxco.

For many years, Mexico has been the number-one silver-producing country in the world, followed by Peru and China. In 2022, Mexico produced 6,120 tons of the metal, while Peru, which ranked second, produced 4,160 tons.

After the Revolution of 1910, an explosion of creativity initiated by a a group of Mexican and North American intellectuals, took place in Mexico.

"In the mountain village of Taxco, along the Rio Balsas, and in the Tierra Caliente, William Spratling, a North American architect who came to Mexico in the late 1920s, discovered Pre-Columbian artifacts and contemporary indigenous crafts. By adopting these forms and interpreting them in silver, Spratling revived a traditional craft and an ancient iconographic vocabulary. As significantly, he inspired Mexican artisans and participated with them in bringing about an artistic renaissance." (1)

This paragraph summarizes in a few words how handmade silver jewelry paved its way, from its humble beginnings to its prominent and enduring position in the world of jewelry.


Today, ancient and modern aspects of life are inextricably intertwined. Silversmiths continue to use the traditional materials of the past and employ both ancient techniques and modern machines." (2)

That's essentially the allure of Mexican jewelry originating from Taxco. Today's silversmiths learned the trade from their parents and their parents did the same. It has been a matter of passing the knowledge from generation to generation. 

Sadly, that tradition has been threatened by mass production pieces coming from countries like China, India, Indonesia; because in that scenario, handcrafted pieces will never be able to compete with mass production ones in terms of quantity. However, regarding quality, our jewelry has always stood out and that's why Mexican silver jewelry has gained its well deserved place in the world.

Now, if you go to Taxco, you will notice that not all the workshops have the same quality and not everything is handmade, so even if you are in Taxco, you still have to pay attention to where to buy your jewelry so you don't get cheated. That is the main reason why Nueve Sterling is here, to offer you quality silver jewelry without the risk of being ripped off or exposed; I'm here to be your gateway to Mexican silver jewelry.

I've always felt that sharing the story of how the Mexican jewelry industry began in Taxco, along with the profound heritage woven into the pieces crafted in that enchanting town, will deepen the appreciation for these unique treasures.

Nowadays, you can find many different styles and designs, depending on what you are looking for. You can get from sculptures, ornate objects, picture frames, jewelry (obviously), silverware sets, water pitchers, trays, plates, all made in silver.

Take a look at this impressive silver jug with Mayan motifs. It was made by Ezequiel Tapia, an extremely talented sculptor who once was the stone-carver of choice for William Spratling. His son, who bears his name, has developed his own line of jewelry with a modern and contemporary approach. His daughter, Carmen is also immersed in the world of the silversmith, thanks to the influence of her father.

Silver pitcher from Ezequiel Tapia

There are many designers from the old school who learned from Spratling and taught whatever they learned, but they also started developing new techniques and designs, and passed on their passion and talent to their children. I will talk about them in future blogs, because they have built what Taxco is nowadays, and their legacy has been of the outmost importance for the development of the Mexican silver jewelry industry.

Today, there's a wave of new designers that combine the ancient techniques with modern ways to create exceptional pieces in silver. Every year, in November, there's an event that started 82 years ago and that has become a tradition that has been going on since then. It was promoted by Spratling with the idea of encouraging the silversmiths to challenge themselves technically and creatively. I'm talking about the "Feria Nacional de la Plata" (National Silver Fair) where skilled designers display their pieces in different categories to be awarded a prize. I will talk about this event in a future blog because it deserves its own space.

In this occasion, I want to share with you a video that explains the beginnings of the silversmithing in Taxco. It is interesting because you can witness people talking about their own experience growing in this town, where everything has to do with silver. You can hear from their own voice, recounting their experience of what it was like to work with Mr. Spratling. You can also see Mr. Tapia talking about his daughter and how he, being his teacher, has been surpassed by her.

This video was produced in 2017 by "Craft in America Center", which is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote and advance original handcrafted work through educational programs in all media. The video alternates in English and Spanish, but in both cases there are subtitles so everybody can understand what is said.

Jewelry coming from this fascinating magical town has a long history behind and there's the possibility to get all kind of designs, depending on your preference.

Nueve Sterling can be the bridge between you and Taxco. If you let me know what you are looking for, I can certainly find out who can make your wish come true.

Contact me through this website, Facebook or Instagram that I am at your disposal for any query or special request you could have. I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, please have a look at the beautiful jewelry I currently offer on my website; I'm sure you'll fall in love with more than one piece!

"Transport yourself" to Taxco by clicking on my logo
Mexican Silver Jewelry in Canada | Nueve Sterling




(1) Morrill, Penny and Berk, Carole. Mexican Silver. Modern Handwrought Jewelry & Metalwork. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2007, pg. 14

(2) Morrill, Penny and Berk, Carole. Mexican Silver. Modern Handwrought Jewelry & Metalwork. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2007, pg. 44