Styles that Define Mexican Jewelry
Fashion is one of the easiest ways we all have to express our own personal style — but jewelry can be a great way to do this, too.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common styles you’ll see in modern day Mexican jewelry, plus what kind of influence Mexico’s rich history has had on this.
Common motifs in Mexican jewelry
Before we dive into the different styles common in Mexican jewelry, let’s review some of the common motifs that have threaded their way through Mexican jewelry, art, and culture since the Pre-Columbian era.
- Nature – With landscapes as lush and beautiful as those found in Mexico, it’s no wonder Mexican jewelry features a wealth of flora, fauna, and animal-inspired pieces. Flowers, jaguars, snakes, lizards, and insects are especially common.
- Religion – Religion has been a huge part of Mexican culture for thousands of years, spanning the Pre-Columbian era to present day. In Pre-Columbian Mexico, gold jewelry was used as offerings to the gods. Throughout history, Mexican artists have incorporated religious symbols and representation into their jewelry.
- Artistic movements – Like with so many other artforms, the Art Deco, Cubism, and Surrealism movements all influenced Mexican jewelry artists, appearing in the way the artists mixed silver with gemstones.
Popular metals in Mexican jewelry
Did you know that Mexico is the #1 silver producer in the world? Although most Pre-Columbian civilizations didn’t place a high value on silver — viewing it as a lesser metal to gold — it became an extremely important form of currency in the colonial period. Today, Mexican silver is known as being among the most beautiful and high quality in the world. Mexican silver jewelry combines bold, dramatic styles and intricate designs with the bright, vibrant colors coming from gemstones.
Highly valued by the Aztec and Maya civilizations, gold jewelry used to be a symbol of social status and was used in trading or as religious offerings. Modern day gold jewelry in Mexico often features intricate gold filigree work, fine gold wire, or large gold chains, influenced by the Maya civilization.
Initially ignored by Spanish conquistadors, who had their sights set on gold and silver, copper eventually gained popularity in the colonial era for its use as things like pots and pans. In modern Mexican jewelry, you’ll often see a combination of both indiginous and Spanish traditions represented in its bold and beautiful designs.
Nature and animal themes
As mentioned above, nature and animal themes have historically made an appearance in Mexican jewelry, pulling inspiration from the beautiful scenery, complex ecosystems, and longtime tradition. Some of the common nature and animal themes you’ll see in modern Mexican jewelry include:
- Flowers – Representing beauty and the natural progression of life
- Trees – Appearing in jewelry since the Maya period, trees symbolize life and abundance
- Jaguars – Symbolizing power and confidence, jaguars first appeared in Olmec art in 1200 B.C. They were thought to be divine creatures, and many Maya deities had the form of a jaguar.
- Snakes – Represent wholeness, fertility, and honor
- Fish – A symbol of spirituality all over the world, fish also represent life, creativity, and independence.
Common gemstones in Mexican jewelry
The use of gemstones in Mexican jewelry dates back all the way to the early Mayan period of Pre-Columbian Mexico, when artists learned how to turn gold, silver, obsidian, and jade into jewelry. Although jewelry recovered from this time is both striking and intricate, during the time it was less about wearing something beautiful and more about signifying wealth and social status.
Many of the gemstones the Pre-Columbian civilizations incorporated into their jewelry are still used often today. Let’s review a few of the most common gemstones you’ll find in Mexican jewelry:
- Turquoise – Known for its striking blue-green color, the use of turquoise in Mexican jewelry dates back thousands of years! Ancient civilizations, including the Toltec, used it to create jewelry, mosaics, and to adorn their weaponry. Turquoise is both beautiful and easy to work with, making it a highly favored gemstone in Mexican jewelry today.
- Amethyst – This purple gemstone is a variety of quartz. Its hue can range from a light, lilac color to a deep violet and is often associated with wealth or royalty. Amethyst is believed to provide mental clarity.
- Black onyx – This rare gemstone is a variety of agate, usually identified by its dark color with parallel bands and layers. It is thought to bring strength or protection to the wearer.
- Red jasper – Red jasper is a variety of quartz that gets its red color from the inclusion of iron. Its name means “speckled or spotted stone” in old French, and is considered a very durable stone. Historically, it is thought to be a very powerful stone of protection and healing.
- Obsidian – This volcanic glass is formed when lava flows quickly cool and harden. It can be extremely rare, and is known for its deep black color and mysterious energy. Obsidian is another protective gemstone, and also thought to be truth enhancing. The Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec civilizations originally used it to create sharp edged weapons as well as jewelry.
- Jade – For thousands of years, jade has been a symbol for both wealth and good luck. It was a prized gemstone to the Toltec civilization, who created jewelry and adorned their weaponry with it.
One of the great things about Mexican jewelry is that it’s artists have such a wide range of artistic influences to draw from, making it accessible to everyone with all different styles.
Here is some of the art that has influenced Mexican jewelry in the 20th century, plus some of the characteristics you can look for from each.
Cubism was created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and actively spanned from 1907 through the 1920s. Common characteristics of cubist jewelry includes:
- Flat, two dimensional objects
- Geometric planes
- Collaged objects
- Abstract forms
Art Deco became popular in the early 1900s, influencing buildings, cars, fashion, jewelry, and more with its modern look and luxurious style. Art deco jewelry often features:
- Geometric and symmetrical designs
- Filigree work
- Dangling elements
Focused on the illogical, strange, and surprising, surrealism began in the 1920s with French poet, André Breton. Elements you’ll find with surrealist jewelry include:
- Dramatic and sculptural
- High contrast
- Multiple textures
Pre-Columbian jewelry designs based off of art and artifacts found from archaeological sites of these ancient civilizations.
- Geometric shapes
- Animals, like the jaguar or snake
Show off your style with our high quality, handmade jewelry
Whatever your style may be, jewelry is a great way to show it off. At Mexican Silver Store, we offer authentic Mexican jewelry made by local Taxco artists.
Shop our collection of jewelry today, and check out some of our current favorites below.
Taxco Mexican Sterling Silver Clamper Necklace
Copper Teardrop Floral Daisy Cut Out Earrings
Sterling Silver Multi Opal Snake Clamper Bracelet
Mexico Copper and Turquoise Floral Cuff Bracelet w/ Inlay Options