Tag Archives: collectible

15 Pieces: Mixed Mexican Jewelry For Sale

I’m getting ready to return to Oaxaca next week with a stopover in Mexico City to lead the Art History Tour focusing on the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, plus the other noted early 20th century Mexican muralists. (Want to hop down? One space open!)

Before I leave the USA, I usually go through my collection to review what I want to part with. The 15-piece selection is below. Look carefully!

To Buy: Send me an email to norma.schafer@icloud.com with your name, address, and item number. I will send you an invoice to pay with credit card. Once I receive your funds, I will mail via USPS to anywhere in the USA. Prices include mailing cost. Please buy and pay before Sunday, October 13, 2019. I return to Mexico on October 16. Thank you VERY much.

#1 Oaxaca Sterling Silver Yalalag Cross with Virgin of Juquila milagros

This is a one-of-a-kind completely handmade necklace, with handmade hollow silver beads and cast milagros in the image of the Virgin of Juquila, a venerated icon. You’ll never see anything like this again. When clasped, it hangs 20-inches. There are 15 milagros, including the three on the suspended cross. Two additional milagros make up the secure hook clasp. This is a collector’s piece. Price is $995. USD including mailing to anywhere in the USA. (Half the price of Federico with more silver.)

Oaxaca Filigree Dangle Earrings, left is #L-2A and right is #R-2B

These are famed Oaxaca filigree dangle earrings made by the best artisan silversmith I know. The ones on the left are called Muñecas and have a deep ruby red glass center to accent the sterling silver and pearls. The pair on the right are also an impressive statement piece, pearl and sterling with more of the filigree featured. Each pair has a 2-1/2″ drop from where the wire enters the earlobe, and is $245 each (includes mailing to anywhere in the USA).

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer!

SOLD. #3 Vintage Coral and Sterling Silver Oaxaca Milagro Necklace
Detail #3, all milagros are hand-cast sterling silver

#3 is an outstanding necklace, 22″ long, that I found at an out-of-the-way Oaxaca vintage antique shop. It was too beautiful to pass up and I added it to my collection. Now it’s time for a new home! $595 includes mailing to anywhere in USA.

Left earrings #4. Right top bangle #5. Vintage bubble bracelet #6.

#4 are among the last pairs of earrings I have made Brigitte Huet, who worked in Oaxaca for 20+ years before she returned to France in 2015. They are formed using the lost wax casting technique, and are 2″ long. $145 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

#5 is a sterling silver Mexican bubble bangle is made in Taxco, Guerrero. I’m very picky about quality, and this one is the best. 6″ interior diameter opening. Measure your wrist! $165 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

#6 is a rare vintage sterling silver Mexican bubble bracelet with native turquoise and hook clasp made in Taxco, Guerrero. It is in very good condition and measures 7-1/4″ long. $185 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.

#7 purple earrings. #8 yellow earrings. #9 hot pink earrings.

#7, #8, and #9 are jicara gourd, hand-carved and painted, made in Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, Mexico. I hand-select each pair for design quality and workmanship excellence. 2-1/2 to 3″ long. Lightweight, versatile, easy to wear. $45 each includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify color and number when ordering. Thank you.

Earrings: #10 love birds. #11 circle flowers. #12 Maya Gods Pendant. #13 cornflowers.
#12 detail, sterling silver Brigitte Huet Maya Gods Pendant, 1″w x 1-1/2″ long, $185

#12. This is a rare Brigitte Huet sterling silver pendant made in the lost wax casting technique. It is from her earliest collection. Price includes mailing to anywhere in USA.

#10 love birds, sterling silver, coral and garnet, $175 USD

#10 are made by the Mazahua silversmiths of Estado de Mexico. I bought these in Mexico City. Difficult to find now. 3″ long from where wire enters earlobe to end of coral drop. Will mail free to anywhere in USA.

Don’t like a price? Make me a reasonable offer.

#11 top and #13 bottom, Melesio Rodriquez 950 sterling earrings

These are 950 sterling silver made by fine Mexican jeweler Melesio Rodriguez. They are each 1-1/4″ long. The design is derived from vintage 1950’s Taxco silversmithing. $165 each pair. Includes mailing to anywhere in USA. Please specify which pair you want by number.

#14 sterling silver Brigitte Huet bracelet with toggle clasp, 7-1/2″ long, $395
Inside detail #14 Brigitte Huet sterling silver bracelet with her mark

#14 was purchased around 2007 from Brigitte when she was working in Oaxaca using the lost wax casting technique. Her fine work was collected by travelers and residents alike. Rare to still find a piece like this. The iconography is Maya representing the huipil woven designs of noblewomen. $435 USD includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

SOLD. #15 vintage Lake Patzcuaro fish necklace, 17″ long

#15 was bought in Patzcuaro, Michoacan in the early 1990’s. Rare. The fish is the iconic symbol of the region. Handmade silver beads and chain add interest along with the red beans from which the fish are suspended. Whimsical, beautiful, strong and secure with a hook clasp. $295 includes mailing to anywhere in the USA.

San Pedro Quiatoni, Oaxaca Jewelry: Quest for the Past

San Pedro Quiatoni is a small Zapotec mountain village in the eastern region of the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. For some inexplicable reason, the village collected Venetian glass beads that came into Mexico with the Spanish galleons along the trade routes between Veracruz, Acapulco and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The necklaces and earrings have become hard-to-find collectibles.

San Pedro Quiatoni necklace, Museo Nacional de Anthropologica

San Pedro Quiatoni necklace, Museo Nacional de Anthropologica, Mexico City

Early necklaces were strung with finely woven ixtle fiber, then later cotton. They typically included a mix of brown, clear, cobalt blue and light turquoise hand-blown slender glass rods of varying lengths, from one to three inches, interspersed with Venetian skunk (black and white) and colored handmade glass beads. Some say the rods originated from Puebla craftsmen. Others dispute this and insist they were part of the bounty coming from Europe to trade for gold, silver and cochineal.

We do know that these particular necklaces have a unique provenance only to this one Oaxaca village, San Pedro Quiatoni. The women wore them for ceremonial occasions, part of the gala traje. Some were single strands. Others, double strands. Each one I found seemed to be unique to the person who assembled the beads based upon what was available and personal aesthetic.

The necklaces, along with complementary earrings, were passed down through the generations, safeguarded in baules (treasure chest, hope chest) in the isolated village that is a good three hours from Oaxaca city.  It wasn’t until the 1970’s, when the Pan-American Highway (Mexico 190) was paved that there was easier access.

Xaquixe reproduction San Pedro Quiatoni necklace

Xaquixe reproduction San Pedro Quiatoni necklace

The old jewelry became a source of needed income for local families as collectors recognized the originality of design and age of the beads. It is difficult now to find an intact strand of these glass beads on their original cord anywhere other than in museums or among private collections.

I became interested in the history of these necklaces last year at a Museo Textil de Oaxaca exhibition that included vintage San Pedro Quiatoni daily traje (dress) and accompanying necklaces. I tried to find glass rods in local antique shops to make my own necklace but was unsuccessful. The reproduction necklaces for sale in the MTO gift shop, made by Xaquixe, sold out in days.

Close-up, Museo Textil de Oaxaca collection

Close-up, Museo Textil de Oaxaca collection, San Pedro Quiatoni

My interest was sparked again this month when I went to visit the Mitla antique dealer I wrote about before. He pulled out three of these Quiatoni necklaces, obviously recently strung on silk cord, to show me. The prices were in the stratosphere even with the favorable dollar to peso exchange rate ($1=17 pesos).

Researching Provenance and Value

To even consider a purchase, I had to know more. So, I searched the Internet for a history of San Pedro Quiatoni beaded necklaces and what was available for sale to find comparables in quality and pricing. I wanted to know if what he was selling was really real! I saw old photos of village women wearing them. I saw 2002 festival photos with beautiful girls each laden with several strands.

I sent an email to Old Beads owner Silva Nielands, an expert in old Mexican beads, as well as old beads from around the world. She had a Quiatoni necklace for sale, one of two that I was able to find online. It was a beauty and had already sold within days of being listed, she told me. Silva was incredibly generous with her advice and time, offering to look at photos I sent her to authenticate age and quality.

Asking for Expert Opinion

She suggested a reasonable retail price for the necklace strung with old coral and I gulped again. She noted that the white oblong beads with the blue squiggles on the necklace I was looking at are typical of those that came into Mexico and South America over 100 years ago, and the light turquoise rods are more rare and valuable than the clear or blue ones. Most of these necklaces are adorned with red glass tubes, not coral, and may be newer.

Quiatoni necklace, Museo Textil de Oaxaca collection

Close-up, Quiatoni necklace

On my recent visit to the USA, I bought an old copy of Mexican Jewelry, the bible written in 1964 by Mary Davis and Greta Pack, and referred to it often during my investigations. I also found, online, a history of beads in Mexico, The Margaretologist, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1987, Journal for the Center of Bead Research (see page 9 of the linked journal).

I visited the necklace four times.  I examined each bead and the stringing. I found several broken tips on the rods. I walked away. He called me and asked me to make an offer. I returned, questioned whether the stringing was done correctly to honor the original design — from my research, it wasn’t. So, I asked for the necklace to be strung correctly and then I would look at it again.

One of three necklaces for sale in Mitla that I was considering

One of three San Pedro Quiatoni necklaces for sale in Mitla that I was considering

According to my sources, the ribbons were originally used for decorations, not to tie the necklace. So this was a dead giveaway that the necklaces were strung improperly. The beads would have been strung on a cotton cord, which would be braided from the last bead to the terminus.

Bargaining and Walking

In the two-week process, I also got negotiating coaching from my friend Scott who has been a trader here in the region for over 40 years. He advised that I admire, inquire and walk away. He suggested I do this several times, not my usual style, but I disciplined myself.  I courageously asked the dealer to restring the beads and replace the rods with broken tips.

This 14" strand came in on turquoise embroidery floss. The short brown beads are old.

This 14″ strand came in on turquoise embroidery floss. The short brown beads are old, and you can see the beautiful glass lamp work.

Scott counseled that the dealer would respect me more if I made a reasonable offer that was fair to us both. Being that the dealer was as close to the source as I was going to get, on the return for the fourth time, I decided to start out by offering half his asking price to test what a reasonable offer might be.  When we reached an agreement for less than what I had in mind, he invited me to return for a family dinner and gave me a warm embrace. I guess Scott was right!

San Pedro Quiatoni necklace and earrings

San Pedro Quiatoni necklace and earrings

The earrings above have a silver disc hammered from an old coin, then cut along the edge to form a double-headed guajolote with feathers. The ear findings are original, too. They are now part of my collection along with the necklace, which now has a cotton cord for proper tying. The navy blue ribbon mimics some of the old pieces, but I’ve also seen photos of these necklaces without the ribbon.

San Pedro Quiatoni Necklace, restrung, Norma Schafer Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC

San Pedro Quiatoni Necklace, restrung, Norma Schafer Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC