The so-called Mexican silver owes its appearance to the Spanish colonialists. It was the Spaniards in the 16th century. taught the local people of present-day Mexico how to manufacture products from this metal. Today, Mexico ranks first in the extraction of silver, and the silver jewelry of the Mexican jewelry industry is known all over the world. Combining Spanish motives and typical Indian patterns, they attract with their originality and dissimilarity to all others.
“Mexican Silver” is always silver of the best quality and of the highest standard – 925 (92.5%). Pure silver (99.9%) is usually too soft, products made from it do not hold their shape and wear out a lot. Therefore, when making jewelry, other metals are added to it, usually copper. The ratio of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper is the most optimal in order to make the product durable and wear-resistant, while maintaining the maximum content of the precious metal in it.
The most famous center of silver craft in Mexico is Taxco. The name of the city serves as a synonym in the country for the word “silver”. The history of the Taxco jewelry industry is inextricably linked with the activities of the American artist and silver master William Spartling. In the 30s of the XX century. he opened his own school for teaching the art of processing precious metals in the city, thereby enabling talented youth to creatively show their skills. Soon, the skillful work of Taxco’s jewelers gained worldwide recognition and fame.
Thanks to the care and support of Spartling, over time, many of these craftsmen have opened their own workshops and shops. Spartling exported jewelry mainly to the USA. The business flourished, and with it the fame of Taxco. Today, almost half of the city’s residents are involved in one way or another in the industry of production and sale of silver jewelry. Now in Taxco there is a museum dedicated to the life, work and creativity of the inspirer of local craftsmen W. Spartling.
All silver jewelry produced in Mexico is labeled. At the beginning of the XX century. a strictly developed Mexican system for marking silver did not yet exist. From 1900 to 1948, stamps were simple and personal – indicating location and silver purity, such as Taxco 980 or Sterling Mexico.
1948 to 1980 Mexican jewelers began to use the eagle stamp. It was put together with other markings, symbols, names and emblems (for example, the inscription “Hecho en Mexico” – “Made in Mexico”). There were many different styles of “eagle”, from simple styles to drawings with a lot of detail. Each eagle was stamped with a number that indicated the location or identity of the manufacturer. So No. 1 was the designation of Mexico City, No. 3 – Taxco. However, this marking system was not fully developed, there were many exceptions, and changes were constantly made. Hence the great difficulty in determining the exact date of manufacture and the belonging of the jewelry to a certain master, if it was made before 1980.
In 1980, a new system for registering silversmiths was created in Mesica. Products were branded with two letters and numbers. The first symbol of such a mark is the initial letter of the city’s name, the second symbol is the first letter of the master’s surname, and the number is the number under which this master was registered in this city. Such markings are still used by Mexican jewelers today.