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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spratling and Taxco Silver Jewelry

When William Spratling began his silver jewelry enterprise in Taxco, Mexico in the 1930s he did not realize that the cultural phenomenon he was beginning would revitalize the enter city of Taxco and begin a renewal of fine Mexican silver jewelry. Spratling inspired silversmiths in Taxco to relearn the art of jewelry making and they began to take advantage of the regions sources of abundant silver, historical and cultural images and high craftsmanship. Taxco literally came back from the dead with the arrival of William Spratling and his dream of silver. Today Taxco and Mexican silver remains some of the most popular and collected designs available.

Geography of Taxco Jewelry

Taxco, Guerrera in Mexico is the small and very picturesque city between Mexico City and Acapulco that was originally discovered by conquistador Cortes. Cortes realized the richness of the silver veins around Taxco and he staked a mining claim there in 1521. In the 1700s Taxco was founded as a colonial mining town. Silver supplies were readily available in Taxco, but it did not become a focus for silver jewelry craftsmanship and production until the mid-20th century when roads constructed into the region began to bring tourists into the area.

Founding of Spratling Silver

American architect and artist William Spratling found Taxco in 1929 and settled there. During the 1930s Spratling began making silver jewelry by melting down pure silver pesos. He enlisted the help of local craftsman and silversmiths, refined their arts and began making handmade silver jewelry to sell to tourists arriving in Taxco. World War II started a craze for fine silver jewelry in American and Spratling started selling his wares to department stores. Early clients included Tiffany & Co, Marshall Fields and Bonwit Teller. After William Spratling died in 1967 his designs and hallmarks were purchased and this company continues his tradition of fine craftsmanship and handmade Taxco silver jewelry to this day.

Spratling and his craftsman designed their jewelry with motifs found in Taxco history. They incorporated pre-Columbian designs and imagery into their designs and pieces are usually large and made from .925 or .950 sterling silver. These silver alloys are considered the finest of all silver materials. Spratling also used native materials like amethyst and turquoise, coral and obsidian and tortoise shell in the unique handmade silver designs.

Today Spratling silver jewelry is high collectible, wanted, and unique. Mexican silver jewelry can readily be identified by the hallmarks that are on silver jewelry pieces. Spratling Taxco silver designs have hallmarks that use the Spratling name or the stylized “W” that was Spratling’s ranch designation. When looking for fine Mexican silver pieces look for TAXCO or MEXICO    discretely stamped on the pieces.

Taxco silver jewelry from the times of William Spratling are high collectible and prized. Follow estate sale biddings to find the artisanal design of Taxco silver jewelry. Spratling’s jewelry and silver pieces are considered the highest collectible Mexican silver products and can be find in very high end jewelry stores or from Spratling’s company website.
Geseell@avilasterling.com

Monday, November 12, 2012

Taxco Silver

What is Taxco Silver?

Taxco is a beautiful town located in the mountains along the west coast of Mexico. Artisans from the city of Taxco are world famous for their handmade silver jewelry. Pure silver is transformed into jewelry with traditional or trendy designs and custom designs can be accommodated. Most Taxco jewelry collections include original silver rings, unique silver pendants and fashionable sterling silver earrings as well as exclusive silver bracelets. Bangles and cuffs made from Taxco silver can also be found in popular jewelry stores and online.

Taxco is associated with silver and handcrafted silver was the main occupation in this mountain village. However, as mining decreased in Taxco, tourism began to take over. Taxco silver jewelry is still reported to be of very high quality and exquisite craftsmanship. Taxco is known as Mexico’s silver capital and those interested in purchasing Mexican silver will find the greatest selection in this picturesque village.

History of Taxco Silver

Silver mining and crafting in Taxco Mexico is both legend and fact. Located in the hills between Acapulco and Mexico City, Taxco is in the state of Guerrero which is one of the oldest mining states in the Americas. The city of Taxco itself has colonial ambiance with red-tiled roofs and cobblestoned streets.

The towering and impressive 250 year old Santa Prisca Cathedral stands over the city reminding citizens and visitors of the natural silver wealth of Taxco that attracted conquistadors from Spain in the 1500s. After Cortes staked his silver claim in Taxco, the area quickly became a very busy silver mining area. However, mining gradually decreased in Taxco as other areas in Mexico developed richer and more accessible mining regions. The silver industry of Taxco faded out for almost 200 years but the handmade silver jewelry of Taxco remained priceless.

Gradually miners and explorers found the rich silver veins in Taxco again and built churches to honor the silver and gold in this city. The famous Santa Prisca Cathedral was built with gold in its spires and it became a focal point of Taxco and the mines surrounding the city. Once again, however, due to war and revolution Taxco silver mines were closed keep silver reserves out of the hand of revolutionaries.

The mines and the silver crafting industry has stayed closed for many years.
Fortunately for Taxco, William Spratling heard the legendary stories of the high quality of silver and silver jewelry and he reopened the mines and began to find artisans in Taxco who knew the ancient art of silversmithing. Using his own designs at first, Spratling created a system of training young silversmiths and Spratling gave them the vehicle to show off their craftsmanship. Thus began Taxco’s return to the silver world and her craftsman to prominence. To date, Taxco silver includes some of the finest and most respected silversmithing in the world. The number of artisans and silversmiths who work with Taxco silver once numbered in the tens and now number in the hundreds.
Geseell@avilasterling.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What to look for in handmade silver jewelry

Handmade silver jewelry is also crafted from silver sheets and are designed and cut into different pieces such as cuff bracelets, earrings and silhouette pendants. To make sure your piece is pure sterling silver look for marks that indicate 92.5 percent silver and only 7.5 percent copper or other metals. Sterling silver jewelry made from sterling silver sheets are drawn onto the sheet of silver and cut with a jewelers saw.

Workmanship of this type of jewelry should have straight cuts and smooth edges. One of a kind handmade silver jewelry can include precious gems that are embedded to set onto the finish. This expertise required for a designer to make this type of jewelry requires high skills and years of experience. It does take hours for even the adept designer to make each and every piece. The finished design can also be antiqued to bring out the details and give it a traditional or heirloomhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom feel.

Do make sure when you are purchasing handmade silver rings there are not ends or wire sticking out. Fine designers will tuck, cut and file holding wires. It is their goal to have every piece of jewelry finished with exactness, precision, and quality. Most high end jewelry boutiques will not try to sell you alloy metal rather than real silver. To make sure your piece is authentic, however, look for a hallmark stamp on your silver design. The clasp or the underside should be marked with a .925 or .999.

The mark will also have the place of origin and the designer’s first initial on the piece. For example, TC will indicate Taxco silver and C will be the initial of the designer. Another test is to drop nitric acid (a very small drop) on the jewelry piece. If the silver is not sterling or fine, the drop will turn green. Avoid buying silver jewelry that turns green! Handmade silver jewelry is made with pride and high quality work ethics. This sets it mass manufactured jewelry that may be sterling silver, but will not be hand crafted or unique. Geseell@avilasterling.com