Oaxaca offers an abundance of distinctive jewelry, much of it at very affordable prices. Many styles are produced in Oaxaca City, where the visitor can also find pieces created in other parts of Mexico, especially the silver of Taxco. We focus on the array of jewelry that originates in Oaxaca. One particularly famous type is ornate filigree that is often decorated with pearls, coral or semi-precious stones.
This is variously produced in gold, gold-plate, silver and “chapa de oro” (an inexpensive metal with gold tone). The basic techniques were introduced by the Spaniards, who were, in turn, influenced by the Arabs. Reproductions of the ancient Mixtec jewelry designs discovered in the archaeological site of Monte Albán are produced most often in gold, but also in silver.
There is also jewelry from the Spanish colonial period, composed of small stones (so called “white sapphires”) mounted in silver that is soldered onto gold bases. In addition, large silver Yalalag crosses, from which smaller crosses dangle, are worn on prominent silver chains. Tiny ceramic animals and beads made in the pueblos of Santa Maria Atzompa and San Bartolo Coyotepec are strung together to create necklaces.
Although there are many jewelry shops within the city of Oaxaca, rarely does one see the process of creation. Artists who are featured here can be seen in workshops – in or just outside of town. Several of them also sell out of Oaxaca City’s “La Casa de las Artesanías” (the house of the artisans), a cooperative established by artisans themselves.