Oaxaca offers an abundance of distinctive jewelry, much of it very affordable. Many styles are produced in Oaxaca City. Of particular renown is ornate filigree that is often decorated with pearls, coral or semi-precious stones, which may be worked 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. Other designs include prominent silver chains bearing large silver Yalalag crosses, from which smaller crosses dangle. In the markets of Santa María Atzompa and San Bartolo Coyotepec one may find necklaces strung with tiny ceramic animals and beads.
Natalia Bolaños Martinez
[Winner, FOFA’s 2013 contest]
Colonia of San Andrés Huayapam
(just outside of Oaxaca City)
San Fernanda #6 Bis
(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-540-8068
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 540-8068
Landline to Cell: 044-951-500-4833
Cell to Cell: 951-500-4833
Natalia has enjoyed creating handicrafts since she was a little girl. Her mother encouraged this by giving her metal to form into earrings. After high school, she pursued this early interest by studying jewelry and metal work at the Escuela de Artesanías in Mexico City. When interviewed by FOFA in 2013, she explained her creative process as she responded to the competition theme Mother Earth. Natalia thought of the common black beetle that lives in the earth, always hiding and burrowing. As she began to study beetles in preparation for her piece, she realized how adaptable filigree is to their organic form. Finally, she worked out her approach to the design, with which she is extremely satisfied.
The Garcia Family
The members of this prolific family live as next-door neighbors, each with his own workshop. Today three brothers and their sons are actively involved in this art.
Delfino Garcia Esperanza
Vega #305, interior 5
(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-514-6880
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 514-6880
Delfino has both preserved his family’s tradition of heirloom designs and patterns in silversmithing and created new designs. He loves to resurrect old designs and molds. Among his special pieces are his crowns for religious images, some in silver and others in gold. Along with his son, Valentín Julián, Delfino produces elegantcombinations of silver and gold filigree earrings with pearls, semi-precious stones, and coral. Some are further elaborated with graceful leaf patterns. Delfino has participated in national and local contests in which the excellence of his work has been recognized. He was also featured as a master jeweler in the exhibition that derived from FOFA’s 2008 young artists contest.
José Jorge García García
Vega #305, Interior 4
(From US) Cell: 011-52-1-951-208-7188
(In Oaxaca) Landline to Cell: 044-951-208-7188
Cell to Cell: 951-208-7188
José’s specialty is silver filigree jewelry, including bracelets – cuff style as well as more delicate bands – and chains. His outstanding work has been awarded prizes in a series of state and national contests. Joséoriginally learned his craft in the workshop of his father and three uncles, one of whom is Delfino (above). However, at 25 years of age he went off on his own, creating new designs, such as a ribbon style with beads of coral, turquoise or pearl.
Rodolfo Pérez Santos
Colonia America Sur
(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-513-9902
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 513-9902
Rodolfo creates many styles of jewelry and has a broad repertoire. He is especially talented in creating pieces in the safiro blanco (literally translated as "white sapphire"), a technique characterized by small bits of crystal and decorative elements mounted on silver with a corresponding gold backing. He is very proud of having originated his own designs, such as the leaf cross and the "ring of the duchess." Rodolfo works in his own shop in a neighborhood 10 minutes outside of the center of town with his son, who also loves this form of art. Most of Rodolfo’s work is commissioned by collectors.
Cesar Rodríguez Zárate
Prolongación de Arteaga #513
Colonia 5 Señores
(From US): Cell: 011-52-1-951-207-0407
(In Oaxaca) Landline to Cell: 044-951-207-0407
Cell to Cell: 951-207-0407
Cesar specializes in milagros, appealing folk art charms in silver that present an individual’s personal spiritual belief that miracles, including small, everyday miracles, can occur. The pieces range from representations of body parts to animals to human figures. In addition to creating necklaces and bracelets incorporating these milagros, Cesar produces Yalalag crosses. These originated in the Sierra de Juárez and predate the Conquest. They consist of a central cross from which three lesser crosses are suspended, a typical Zapotec style embued with cosmic, social and theological significance.
The Rojas Calvo Family
Porfirio Díaz #311 (workshop)
(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-516-4528
(In Oaxaca) Landline: 516-4528
This family has improved or pioneered many of the major jewelry styles found in the city of Oaxaca: gold filigree, colonial style, and reproduction of ancient designs. Rosa (nicknamed Rosita) Quevedo and her daughter Tére Calvo opened the first jewelry shop in Oaxaca in 1947. Proud of the region’s Zapotec and Mixtec civilizations, they researched the jewelry discovered in Monte Albán’s Tomb 7 in 1932 by archaeologist Alfonso Caso. These famous pieces had been entrusted to Rosita’s colleague, master jeweler José Ortiz for cleaning and restoration. Having earned a reputation of trust and quality, Rosita’s workshop, with Maestro Ortiz’s talented participation, was eventually granted the sole rights to make reproductions of this jewelry. Today one may see examples of this work in multiple stores in town named Oro de Monte Albán (gold of Monte Albán), as well as at the workshop of the same name, which preserves all phases of ancient production principles.
Yesenia Yadira Salgado Téllez
[Honorable mention, FOFA 2011, 2013, 2016 contests]
Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán (just outside of Oaxaca City)
Calle Moctezuma 3 Lote 5, Colonia Moctezuma
(From US) Landline: 011-52-951-533-9454
(In Oaxaca): Landline: 533-9454
Landline to Cell: 044-951-545-0358
Cell to Cell: 951-545-0358
Yesenia is a member of a jewelry making family with generationsof experience working in silver. Her father taught her to make fine silver wire by hand, fashioned from bars of .925 silver created from silver and copper that she melds herself. Yesenia feels proud to bring new life to the traditional techniques of her family through innovative designs. She has helped in the family workshop since the age of 15. This piece is inspired by a model that her father introduced, which Yesenia recreated and enlarged, adding a pendant to honor him. The technique she used is known as cartoneado, a form of threaded silver wire different from filigree technique, in which two silver wires are twisted together. She included pearls because they are traditional in Oaxacan jewelry.