mars 25, 2024

What is Mexican jewelry famous for?

Taxco frog silver necklace with malachite

Nestled within the brilliant fabric of Mexico's different landscapes is an abundant supply of natural resources, each one a monument to the country's great beauty and diversity.

Mexico is home to a wide variety of environments, from magnificent deserts to breathtaking forests, beautiful mountains to crystal-clear rivers and boundless seas.

This country boasts a significant abundance of resources, including silver, a precious metal in which it has held the position of global production leader for numerous years. It has a booming agricultural sector with products that we can highlight such as avocado, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and cocoa. The richness of Mexico extends further with thriving livestock and abundant fishing grounds, making it a land of opportunity and prosperity.

Furthermore, Mexico is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, displaying a diverse range of artisanal crafts, with jewelry holding a special spot. From every corner of this dynamic nation come unique techniques and materials for adorning, creating pieces that capture beauty while carrying deep ties to tradition and history.

In this blog, as someone with over a decade of experience in the jewelry industry, I would like to dedicate this space to showcasing the diverse types of artisan Mexican jewelry. I'll explore their origins, characteristics, and examples of their exquisite craftsmanship, offering insights into this rich and vibrant tradition.

Filigree from Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Yucatan

Filigree is an ancient technique, with evidence of its use found in multiple civilizations throughout history. However, it is thought to have been especially developed and perfected by civilizations like the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Ancient Egyptians. These cultures employed filigree to craft elaborate motifs in jewelry and ornamental items made of metal. The method eventually extended to other areas and cultures, each of which contributed its own distinctive inventions and characteristics.

Originating from the southern state of Oaxaca, filigree jewelry is characterized by intricate designs. This ancient technique dates to pre-Hispanic times, and its artistry has been passed down through generations of skilled artisans.

The goldsmiths who dedicate themselves to filigree spend their days between threads of gold and silver, with them they draw delicate designs like lace. They skillfully manipulate the wires, intertwining, welding, and affixing them to a metal base, creating exquisite works of art.

One prevalent distinction among filigree styles in each state of Mexico is the thickness of the silver or gold threads used. Yucatan's filigree stands out from other styles, like Oaxacan filigree, due to its notably denser composition.

The filigree technique is an intricate process requiring meticulous precision down to the millimeter. It infuses each piece with an authentic and irreplaceable personality, a quality beyond the capability of any machine.

Silver Filigree Bracelet from Taxco Mexico


While filigree is traditionally associated with its origins in Oaxaca, Yucatán, and Chiapas, Taxco also boasts superior filigree pieces crafted by skilled artisans, such as this exquisite silver bracelet with pearl.


Examples of filigree jewelry include stunning earrings adorned with intricate floral motifs, intricately woven bracelets featuring geometric patterns, and necklaces embellished with delicate filigree beads.

Chiapas Amber Jewelry

Amber, a fossil resin prized for its remarkable transparency and brilliance, is primarily found in the highlands of northern and central Chiapas within Mesoamerica.

Referred to as "Chiapas Amber," this semi-precious gem of plant origin is utilized in various forms, including jewelry, art pieces, and religious artifacts.

Since ancient times in the region, amber has been highly esteemed for its ornamental qualities and as a medium of trade.

Chiapas amber differs from Baltic amber in its extraction process; while Baltic amber is often found near the surface, Chiapas amber is extracted from underground mines. This distinction contributes to Chiapas amber's wide array of colors, influenced by varying degrees of oxygenation and exposure to light throughout its formation.

Artisans skillfully harness the unique properties and hues of amber in their craft. The traditional artisanal process involves several steps: selecting raw stones, determining their use, shaping and cutting to desired forms, polishing with sandpaper and gloss paste, meticulous cleaning, and finally, mounting the stones in precious metals to create exquisite pieces.

Chiapas amber jewelry can be found in local markets such as the Mercado de Santo Domingo in San Cristóbal de las Casas or specialty shops throughout the state. Each piece reflects the unique characteristics of Chiapas amber, with its warm, glowing tones and natural inclusions, serving as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artisanal mastery of the region.

Chiapas Amber Silver Pendant from TaxcoIn Taxco, artisans skillfully craft stunning silver jewelry adorned with Chiapas Amber, creating a winning combination that blends the expertise honed in Taxco over the years, with the captivating beauty of Chiapas Amber. Notably, Chiapas Amber holds the esteemed status of being one of the 18 denomination of origin products officially recognized in Mexico, underscoring both its exceptional quality and unique origin.

Wixárika or Huichol Jewelry

Huichol art originates from an ancient tradition rooted in the visions experienced by Huichol shamans or Wixárikas, induced by the consumption of peyote. Artisans  interpret these visions, transforming them into intricate works of art crafted with beads and stamens.

Referred to as "The art of dreaming to create" by the Huichol people, their artistic expression is intimately linked with daily rituals involving the Peyote cactus, revered as a deity. Within this sacred plant lies Mescaline, a psychoactive compound believed to enhance creativity and imagination, inspiring the vivid designs encapsulated in their art.

Enriched by deep religious devotion, Huichol art embodies an enigmatic and vibrant beauty, offering glimpses into its ancient origins. It represents a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles within popular and folk arts. 

Huichol or Wixárika jewelry, renowned as a prominent example of Mexican jewelry, stands as one of Mexico's most recognized and widespread forms of adornment. Characterized by vibrant, multicolored beads replacing traditional materials like seeds, stones, and shells, these creations are unmistakable and encompass a diverse range of accessories.

Crafted by artisans from the indigenous communities nestled within the Central-Western regions of Mexico, particularly the Sierra Madre Occidental, the intricate process of beadwork can take one to two weeks. Guided solely by a needle and thread, these skilled artisans fashion earrings, pendants, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and bangles, each piece a testament to their rich cultural heritage and artistic prowess.

Ocoxal Jewelry

Ocoxal, pine needles, are a natural material that, through patience and ingenuity, the people of the State of Mexico have learned to skillfully manipulate, giving rise to the crafting of brown artifacts infused with a distinctive and unparalleled aroma.

The production process commences with the collection of the pine needles. Artisans venture into the forest to carefully select needles that possess specific characteristics: they must be thick, strong, and lengthy to prevent breakage.

Once collected, the needles are soaked in water and washed in a tub before being laid out to dry under the sun's rays, preparing them for use.

The weaving of ocoxal needles is meticulously executed using hemp thread, requiring considerable patience. This intricate process yields a variety of items including napkin holders, fruit bowls, bread baskets, vases, trays, pencil holders, and even tequila holders.

With boundless creativity, artisans can also fashion jewelry boxes, earrings, and necklaces from these versatile materials.

Black Clay Jewelry 

To speak of the state of Oaxaca is to evoke a land brimming with enchantment, vibrant hues, and deep-rooted traditions. Within its borders, customs, music, cuisine, and rich history converge, weaving together to shape a syncretic culture that embodies both the essence of the past and the dynamism of the present. It's a realm where art flourishes in myriad forms, infusing every corner with meaning and identity.

Artisans, wielding water and clay as their elemental tools, shape the very dust of the earth with their hands alone, guided by the dictates of imagination and heart. This act becomes a sacred dialogue—a communion with the divine and a reflection of the community's spirit.

To craft with clay is to embark on a mystical journey, beginning with the ritual cleansing of the material to purify it from impurities and stones. Once cleansed, the clay is tenderly soaked, allowing it to yield to the touch. It is in this moment that the enchantment unfolds, as the inert dust springs to life, shaped, molded, and imbued with vitality by the artisan's hands, fueled by imagination, creativity, and technique.

Upon completion, the piece undergoes a final ritual—a gentle passing of a damp sponge to refine its surface through smearing, sgraffito, or scratching. Its lustrous gleam, achieved through the meticulous burnishing with quartz, is heightened as it undergoes the firing process over oak wood. It undergoes baking at high temperatures within a fully enclosed subterranean kiln, creating an oxygen-depleted environment. Achieving this requires sealing all entrances with mud.

During this process, dense smoke forms, infusing the pieces and imparting the

characteristic black hue.

The black clay jewelry crafted in Oaxaca exudes uniqueness, elegance, andoriginality. Each piece is meticulously hand-molded, rendering every jewelry item authentic and one-of-a-kind.

Beans and Seeds Jewelry

Another artisanal approach to crafting jewelry involves using seeds indigenous to the region where they are made. For instance, earrings and necklaces can be crafted from a variety of seeds such as beans, roasted coffee beans, jacaranda seeds, dried fruits, to mention some. 

This is an expression of Mexico's connection to the land, jewelry made from beans and seeds is a unique form of adornment that celebrates the country's agricultural heritage. Artisans in regions like Chiapas and Oaxaca transform these humble materials into beautiful and eco-friendly jewelry pieces.

Jewelry made from beans and seeds can be found in local markets and artisan cooperatives throughout Mexico, with each piece reflecting the natural beauty of the materials used. From colorful bean necklaces and seed earrings to intricately woven seed bracelets, these pieces showcase the creativity and resourcefulness of Mexican artisans.

Silver Jewelry

Renowned worldwide for its exquisite craftsmanship and timeless beauty, silver jewelry from Taxco is a true reflection of Mexico's rich silversmithing tradition. Located in the state of Guerrero, Taxco has been a hub for silver production even before the colonial era, with artisans continuing to create stunning pieces using traditional techniques.

Even though Taxco stands out as a prominent center for silver craftsmanship, other regions also boast significant silver production, such as Mineral del Monte and Real del Monte in Hidalgo, Sombrerete in Zacatecas, Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosí, as well as Yucatán and Puebla.

Taxco handcrafted silver necklace


Taxco, with its rich tradition dating back to pre-Hispanic times, emerged as a focal point for silver craftsmanship. The town's silver legacy flourished notably in the 1930s, birthing an array of timeless designs. Despite the constant threat posed by machine-made jewelry, these designs continue to be meticulously crafted by skilled hands in Taxco, preserving the artistry, heritage and greatness of Mexican jewelry.

Preserving Tradition: A Tribute to Mexican Artisan Jewelry

As we journey through the diverse world of Mexican jewelry, it's clear that each technique carries with it a rich history and cultural significance. From the intricate filigree of Oaxaca to the vibrant beads of western Mexico, these pieces are not just accessories but symbols of tradition and craftsmanship.

At Nueve Sterling, I strive to celebrate this rich heritage by bringing to your doorstep the exquisite and authentic sterling silver jewelry from Taxco. Each piece in my collection pays homage to the legacy of Mexican artisans, providing you with a precious keepsake of their artistry and culture that will endure for generations.

Whether you're captivated by the timeless elegance of Taxco silver or intrigued by the ingenuity showcased in pine needle jewelry, I encourage you to explore the beauty and craftsmanship of Mexican jewelry. Each piece holds a unique story waiting to be discovered. If you ever have the opportunity to acquire one of these exquisite handcrafted creations, I urge you to seize it. Not only will you adorn yourself with beauty, but you'll also contribute to the preservation of Mexico's rich crafting traditions. It's a precious chance to be part of something truly special.