Tag Archives: jewelry

Que Supresa! Oaxaca in San Diego, California

As I drive south from my son’s home in Huntington Beach, California, on my way to visit Barbara and David, and dear friend Merry Foss in San Diego, I marvel at how the landscape looks like Mexico, how the climate feels like Mexico. Except there is development everywhere, new houses, shopping centers, freeway congestion. Infrastructure.

Pedro Mendoza and Carina Santiago from Teotitlan del Valle, in San Diego, CA

Pedro Mendoza and Carina Santiago from Teotitlan del Valle, in San Diego, CA

When I stop at the Pacific Ocean overlook, everyone around me speaks Spanish and I take up a conversation with a young mother traveling with two daughters from El Paso, Tejas (the J is a soft H. Tay-Hass). Oh, you might think that could be Texas. Sometimes I think we are borrowing the Southwest from Mexico and the day of reckoning will come when most of us will speak Spanish and justice will prevail.

Sisters Consuelo (left) and Violante Ulrich continue the Spratling silver tradition

Sisters Consuelo (left) and Violante Ulrich continue the Spratling silver tradition

At Barbara and David’s house, I expect a small gathering. I know my Teotitlan del Valle friend Merry Foss will be there with exquisite beaded blouses from the State of Puebla Sierra Norte made by a cooperative of indigenous women that Merry started six years ago.

Jacobo Angeles with copal wood carved and painted ram from San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca

Jacobo Angeles with copal wood carved and painted ram, San Martin Tilcajete

I know that friends Violante and Consuelo Ulrich who continue the William Spratling silver jewelry making tradition in Taxco will be here. (I take study tour goers to meet them in Taxco during the February Textile and Folk Art Study Tour to Tenancingo de Degollado. Spaces open.)

Then, I turn the corner. Que Supresa! Que Milagro! I  see part of my extended family from Teotitlan del Valle and Oaxaca.

Shopping for Oaxaca embroidered blouses

Shopping for Oaxaca embroidered blouses

I had no idea that Pedro Mendoza and his wife Carina Santiago and their son Diego would also be there with their terrific handmade rugs. Carina runs Tierra Antigua Restaurant and Pedro is a weaver/exporter.

Or, that friend Jacobo Angeles drove a truck up from Oaxaca filled with alebrijes made by him and family members in San Martin Tilcajete, in Oaxaca’s Ocotlan valley.

Ortega's Folk Art, Tonala, Jalisco, Mexico

Ortega’s Folk Art, Tonala, Jalisco, Mexico

And, then there are ceramics from Mata Ortiz, and hand-carved whimsical wood figures by Gerardo Ortega Lopez from Tonala, Jalisco.

If you can get to San Diego this weekend, there’s a great Expoventa (show and sale) at Bazaar del Mundo, where you can meet all these artisans and buy directly from them.

Mata Ortiz pottery from Chihuahua, Mexico

Mata Ortiz pottery from Chihuahua, Mexico

Both Pedro and Jacobo tell me that tourism has dropped substantially in Oaxaca in the last month our of fear about the clashes between the federal government and the striking teachers. While Oaxaca’s economy depends on tourism, the teachers have legitimate grievances that need to be addressed. It’s complicated!

Hand-beaded blouses from Puebla, Merry Foss artisan cooperative

Hand-beaded blouses from Puebla, Merry Foss artisan cooperative

Some artisans who have visas and have come to the U.S. to do business for years, are able to cross the border and try to make up for what is lost in the local economy. Instead of talking about building walls, United States leaders need to talk about building bridges.

Mexican doll collection, home of David and Barbara

Mexican doll collection, home of David and Barbara

In the meantime, it takes people like David and Barbara, Robin and Linda, and members of Los Amigos del Arte Popular de Mexico who keep the folk art traditions of Mexico in the forefront, who host artisans for private sales, who promote that Mexico has a rich artistic and cultural heritage that remains vibrant only through support and understanding.

Oaxaca clay nativity scene, private collection

Oaxaca clay nativity scene, private collection

If you personally or an organization you are involved with would like to host an artisan visit to the United States, please contact me. I can facilitate. This means a lot to people to keep their family traditions alive and income flowing.

Pacific Ocean overlook, sunny Southern California day

Pacific Ocean overlook, sunny Southern California day

I’m returning to Oaxaca next week. I’ve been traveling for over a month. This is a great interlude to visit with family and friends. I seem to be happy wherever I am these days! I hope you are contented, too.

Pond sunset, end to a perfect San Diego day

Pond sunset, end to a perfect San Diego day

 

Mexican Vintage Gold + Silver Jewelry Pop-Up Sale: Next

Another sweep through my jewelry collection. Getting closer to the essentials. Making some hard decisions about what to sell.  Most of these pieces are from Oaxaca and you will recognize traditional designs many reminiscent of Frida Kahlo, with amazing filigree work, and excellent craftsmanship. Several are from visits to Mexico City and Michoacan. I rarely wear them now, so here is an opportunity to bring some fine Oaxaca and Mexico pieces home.

Please make your purchase before July 1, 2016. I’m leaving Oaxaca to visit the U.S. and will bring your piece(s) with me to mail to you via USPS Priority Mail. I include mailing in the price. You send me an email telling me the  piece(s) you want by number and I send you a PayPal invoice. I confirm receipt of payment and ask you to send me your mailing address.

#1:  10K Gold vintage Oaxaca filigree earrings with pearls and bezel set, big juicy cut red glass, floral style, 2″ long.  Traditional, beautiful. $350. Rare.

#1. 10K Gold filigree with pearls and red cut glass, bezel set. $350 USD.

#1. 10K Gold filigree leaves with pearls and red cut glass, bezel set. $350 USD.

#1. Another view of the stone set in a bezel.

#1. Another view of the stone set in a bezel.

#2. 10K Gold filigree vintage pearls and cut glass in the Gusano style of earring. Lots of lustre. Glass is secured with gold prongs. Gusano is the maguey worm that adds flavor to mezcal! 1-1/2″ long. $325 USD. Rare.

#2. Gusano style 10K Gold filigree earrings with pearls and cut red glass. $325 USD

#2. Gusano style 10K Gold filigree earrings with pearls and cut red glass. $325 USD

#3. SOLD. 10K Gold, vintage pearl and cut red glass mini-gusanos. These are small and delicate, 1″ long. $65 USD. Rare.

#3. Mini-gusano earrings, 1" long. $65 USD

#3. Mini-gusano earrings, 1″ long. $65 USD

#4. I bought these from a famous Oaxaca jewelry maker and wore them a few times. Just too big for me, but maybe just right for you! Sterling silver, love birds, dangling jars and hot pink cut glass accent. 3″ long. $245 USD.

#4. Sterling silver with dangling jars, love birds and cut glass. $245 USD

#4. Sterling silver with dangling jars, love birds and cut glass. $245 USD

#5. 10K Gold vintage filigree and coral earrings. I bought these in Mexico City some years ago. Beautiful filigree work.  1-1/2″ long. $220 USD.

#5. 10K Gold vintage filigree earrings with coral, 1-1/2" long, $185 USD

#5. 10K Gold vintage filigree earrings with coral, 1-1/2″ long, $220 USD

#6. Sterling silver vintage earrings with pearl drops from Puebla, Mexico. 1-3/4″ long. They used to make jewelry in Puebla. No more. $175 USD

#6. Sterling Silver and pearl birds and flowers. 1-3/4" long. $155 USD.

#6. Sterling Silver and pearl birds and flowers. 1-3/4″ long. $175 USD.

#7.  The centers of the circles are white sapphires and sparkle with movement. This is a vintage pair of earrings, sterling silver and pearls, with 10K gold hooks, backing and frame. I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere. 2″ long. $145 USD. Rare.

#7. Vintage sterling silver with 10K gold hooks, white sapphires and pearls. $135 USD

#7. Vintage sterling silver with 10K gold, white sapphires and pearls. $145 USD

#8. Traditional Oaxaca sterling silver filigree earrings with coral beads, new. 2-1/4″ long. $95 USD.

#8. Traditional sterling silver filigree and coral earrings, new. $95 USD.

#8. Traditional sterling silver filigree and coral earrings, new. $95 USD.

#9. SOLD. I bought these sterling silver filigree and turquoise earrings directly from the man who made them in his home workshop in Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca. The turquoise is a little more blue than the photo shows. 1-1/4″ long. They can be yours for $125 USD.

#9. Sterling silver filigree and turquoise earrings, $95 USD.

#9. Sterling silver filigree and turquoise earrings, $125 USD.

#10. Sterling silver earrings, hand-crafted by a famous Oaxaca jewelry maker, this is the squash blossom design. 2″ long. $95 USD.

#10. Oaxaca famous maker squash blossom earrings, sterling silver. $95 USD.

#10. Oaxaca famous maker squash blossom earrings, sterling silver. $95 USD.

#11. Sterling silver handcrafted designer earrings with hearts, milagros, bows, and bezel set carnelian cabuchons. 2-1/4″ long. $125 USD.

#11. Harts milagros sterling silver earrings, carnelian cabuchons, $145 USD.

#11. Hearts milagros sterling silver earrings, carnelian cabuchons, $125 USD.

#12. Sterling silver vintage Mexican necklace from Taxco, marked 925. 18-1/2″ long, sturdy, secure box clasp. Bought in Mexico City. $85 USD.

#12. Sterling silver vintage leaf necklace, Marked Mexico 925, made in Taxco. $85 USD

#12. Sterling silver vintage leaf necklace, Marked Mexico 925, made in Taxco. $85 USD

#13. Handmade Mexican copper beads from Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan, 20″ long, strung on copper. $65 USD.

#13. Copper necklace from Michoacan. 20" long. $65 USD.

#13. Copper necklace from Michoacan. 20″ long. $65 USD.

#13. Full view copper necklace.

#13. Full view copper necklace.

#14. 2-tone Copper Necklace from Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan. 22″ long. $65 USD.

#14. 2-tone copper necklace from Michoacan, $65 USD

#14. 2-tone copper necklace from Michoacan, $65 USD

#14. Full view of copper necklace, 22' long.

#14. Full view of copper necklace, 22′ long.

 

Pop-Up Vintage Jewelry Sale: Oaxaca Gold Filigree, Mexican Sterling + More

I’m making another trip to the USA and in the move to edit my collection, I’ve taken inventory and will sell the following jewelry. Most pieces are vintage collectible and some are new and newer.

Please make your purchases by June 30, 2016. I will bring what you buy with me and ship from Santa Fe, NM after July 7.  All prices include USPS priority mail shipping within USA. Send me an email and I’ll let you know if the piece is still available, then send you a PayPal invoice. Thank you very much.

Vintage 10K Gold filigree + pearl earrings, Muñeca's, 2-1/8" long, $350 USD

Vintage 10K Gold filigree + pearl earrings, Muñeca’s, 2-1/8″ long, $350 USD

  1. SOLD. Muñecas. This earring style, little dolls, is worn by Teotitlan del Valle Zapotec women for special occasions. This pair is over 50 years old. Everything is hand-made and the pearls are affixed with 10K gold wire. Red cut glass. I bought them to help out a local friend.
10K Gold Filigree earrings, Veracruz, 1-1/2" long, $225

10K Gold Filigree earrings, Veracruz, 1-1/2″ long, $225

2. SOLD. Veracruz, Mexico flower earrings, 10K gold. Handmade filigree. Vintage. Intricately made, hangs beautifully from sturdy wires. $225 USD.

10K Gold filigree earrings, Veracruz, 1-1/4" long

10K Gold filigree earrings, Veracruz, 1-1/4″ long, $185

3. SOLD. Veracruz filigree flower earrings, vintage, handmade, smaller and a bit more delicate than #2. $185 USD

10K Gold filigree flower ring, Veracruz, size 4-1/2, with 1" flower, $95

10K Gold filigree flower ring, Veracruz, size 4-1/2, with 1″ flower, $95

4.  Veracruz Flower Ring, vintage. $95 USD.

10K Gold filigree ring, Veracruz, size 4-1/2, with 1" flower, $95

10K Gold filigree ring, Veracruz, size 4-1/2, with 1″ flower, $95

5. Veracruz 10K gold filigree flower ring. Vintage. $95 USD.

Patzcuaro, Michoacan. Handmade silver and coral dangle earrings, $110

Patzcuaro, Michoacan. New, handmade silver and coral dangle earrings, $110 USD

6. Patzcuaro handcast silver and coral earrings, 2-1/2″ long dangles. $110

Mazahua New Silver + Coral Bird Earrings, $145

Mazahua New Silver + Coral Bird Earrings, 2-1/2″ long, $145 USD

7. SOLD. Silver and Coral Bird Earrings made by the Mazahua people in Estado de Mexico. These are cast and carved with lots of moving parts for movement when you walk. Very traditional design. 2-1/2″ long. $145 USD

Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan, Copper Ball Earrings, new, 1" long, $65

SOLD Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan, Copper Ball Earrings, new, 1″ long, $65

8. SOLD. Copper Ball Earrings have a non-tarnish finish. $65 USD. I was in Santa Clara del Cobre last year where I bought these. Love the sheen.

Matl-style vintage earrings, sterling, turquoise, coral, amethyst, $225

Matl-style vintage earrings, sterling, turquoise, coral, amethyst, $225

9. Matl-style, sterling, turquoise, coral and amethyst earrings. I bought these at a Mexico City antiques market. They have post-backs. All stones in excellent condition. 2-1/4″ long. Stamped Mexico 925. $225 USD.

Jadeite + Sterling Vintage 40's Choker & Bracelet, $250

Ballesteros Jadeite + Sterling Vintage 40’s Choker & Bracelet, $250 USD, 2 pieces

10. SOLD. Carved Masks necklace and bracelet set. Jadeite and sterling. Necklace is 16″ long with a secure hook clasp. Bracelet is 6″ long and will fit a small wrist. All carved masks in perfect condition. Marked Ballesteros, Hand Made, Taxco Mexico. Ballesteros was one of the finest silversmith studios. More photos below:

Ballesteros hand made necklace and bracelet set. Photo 10B.

Ballesteros hand made necklace and bracelet set. Photo 10B.

Black Onyx Vintage Bracelet, 7" long, $155

Black Onyx Sterling Silver Vintage Bracelet, 7″ long, 3/4″ wide, $145 USD

11. Black Onyx, Sterling Silver Filigree with sturdy box clasp, 7″ long bracelet. This is a vintage piece found in a North Carolina rural antique shop. They knew what they had! Stamped Sterling Mexico. $145 USD. Another photo below.

11B. Black Onyx + Sterling filigree bracelet, box clasp.

11B. Black Onyx + Sterling filigree bracelet, box clasp.

 

Art Deco Jadeite Sterling Silver Ball Bracelet, with rope detail, 8" long, $155

Jadeite Sterling Silver Ball Bracelet, with rope detail, 8″ long, 1/2″ wide, $155

12. SOLD. Jadeite and Sterling Ball Bracelet with sturdy box clasp. $155 USD.

12B. Jadeite + Sterling Bracelet clasp detail.

12B. Jadeite + Sterling Bracelet clasp detail. Taxco 925.

Huichol hand beaded earrings. 3" long. $28 USD

Huichol hand beaded earrings. 3″ long. $22 USD

13. Huichol peoples make gorgeous beadwork. These are great summer casual fun. $22 USD.

Huichol beaded earrings, 3" long, new $30 USD

Huichol beaded earrings, 3″ long, new $22 USD

14. Brown, Pink, Cream, Black beaded Huichol earrings, with sterling hooks, 3″ long, $22 USD

Waxed Linen Crochet Flower earrings, 2-3/4" dia. from Estado de Mexico, $35 USD

Waxed Linen Crochet Flower earrings, 2-3/4″ dia. from Estado de Mexico, $30 USD

15. Hot pink, purple with a touch of yellow, makes this pair of earrings a knock-out for summer. All hand-crochet work, tight, and strong. I bought these in Malinalco, Estado de Mexico. $30 USD

A Day with Silver Icon William Spratling and Heir Violante Ulrich in Taxco, Mexico

William Spratling died in 1967 but his legacy lives on through the efforts of Violante Ulrich and her sister Consuelo. Their father, Alberto Ulrich, was a close Spratling friend and supporter. They drove race cars together along the narrow winding roads connecting Taxco with the Pacific beach resort of Acapulco. Ulrich took over the Spratling enterprise then to keep it going and his daughters are also committed to this.

 

There are few remaining silversmiths in Taxco from that era. All the shops whose mast-head bear the names of the famous masters such as Los Castillos, Antonio Pineda and Enrique Ledesma are now mostly filled with production pieces. Very little is still made by hand. (There is one Taxco shop called Hecho a Mano that makes excellent reproductions of significant pieces.)

In production, silver fish with ebony, a favorite Spratling jewelry hardwood

I made arrangements with Violante to spend a day with her in Taxco during our recent folk art study tour. Silver is to Mexico what rebozos are, too. Part of this country’s cultural identity. So, seeing the Spratling home Las Delicias where he first lived and worked was an essential part of this experience.

Rafa melting 925 parts silver and 75 parts copper

Rafa melting 925 parts silver and 75 parts copper to make 925 jewelry

I remember visiting the Spratling silver galleries in Taxco in the early 1970’s. I was young and couldn’t afford much. Even then, Spratling was a legend. There were many beautiful pieces for sale in the showroom on the plaza. I managed to buy a small chain for $35 USD — a big sum then —  and still have it!

Sterling silver flatware with rosewood, $1,000 USD a place setting

Sterling silver flatware with rosewood, $1,000 USD a place setting

Taxco is about a two-hour drive from Tenancingo, so it made sense to me to schedule this as a day trip. When we arrived, we had breakfast at S’Caffecito prepared by Violante and her staff, got a tour of the house, galleries and and rooftop terrace overlooking the church.

 

Above left, Violante with a Marilyn Monroe chair. Right, the Spratling monkey.

1950's vintage Spratling owl pin with amethyst eyes

1950’s vintage Spratling owl pin with amethyst eyes

Then, we got in the van and drove to Taxco El Viejo on the road to Iguala, where Spratling later built his ranch. He did this for many reasons. He wanted privacy and a workshop away from the hovering eyes of other Taxco silversmiths who began to copy his work.

Spratling workshop, just as it was then

Spratling workshop, just as it was then. Antonio demonstrates.

It was amazing to be in this space where all the equipment used now was the same as it was then.

The beginning of the owl pin with the amethyst eyes.

The beginning of the owl pin with the amethyst eyes.

The jewelry molds are exactly as they were, and skilled craftsmen are creating silver flatware inlaid with rosewood, pins, necklaces, bracelets and earrings in the same gauge metal and quality that William Spratling used.

Annealing the silver owl pin that will have amethyst eyes

Annealing the silver owl pin that will have amethyst eyes

Not much has changed, thankfully, except that the next generation of Spratling silversmiths include Violante and Consuelo who have registered a new stamp with the Mexican government and also design and produce their own work.

 

We toured the workshops and met silversmiths Antonio and Rafael who demonstrated the process to make Spratling’s famous owl pin with the amethyst eyes. We saw the original molds, examples of Spratling’s original work and the pieces made today that are for sale. (Of course, there was lots to try on.)

We saw the chairs that Spratling designed for Marilyn Monroe that went undelivered because of her suicide.

 

How did they know this? Margarita Gonzales, the accountant, kept impeccable records, and when Alberto Ulrich found the stash of chairs tucked away in a closet, he knew exactly where to look to track the provenance.

Old iron nails kept for furniture restoration projects

Old iron nails kept for furniture restoration projects

After a tour of the ranch and the workshops, we settled in for a delicious lunch under the corridor next to the kitchen. We talked about beauty, history, Spratling’s love of red, white and blue ornamentation that represented to him the colors of melting silver. We saw pre-Columbian sculpture and folk art figures from Spratling’s personal collection.

 

A day with Violante Ulrich is a rich experience by which to understand the lore and history of Taxco silver making and the life of William Spratling. She is an artful cook, outstanding silversmith, great host and dedicated to preserving the ranch which is in need of restoration. We were fortunate to spend this time with her.

At the end of the afternoon there was enough independent time to explore the steep cobbled hill town, go into the church and search for more silver treasures before heading back to Tenancingo.

 

A surprise awaited us! In the church was sculptor Miguel D. Sobrino who created the silver Virgin of Guadalupe that stands beside the altar encased in protective glass. Except today, Our Lady had been removed from her case and was being thoroughly cleaned to prepare her for a move to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City to greet Pope Francis.

 

We enjoyed lots of views — from the Las Delicias rooftop garden and the terrace overlooking the central plaza. For some on the study tour, this trip to Taxco was a dream come true. I hadn’t been back for 44 years until last September. I’m looking forward to the next time. I hope you can come with me.

Ten wonderful women on the February 2016 study tour on the Spratling terrace

Ten wonderful women + me, February 2016 study tour on the Spratling terrace

I will be organizing this rebozo study tour for mid-September 2016 to coincide with the Tenancingo rebozo fair. There will be a few modifications in the itinerary we just completed but the trip to Taxco is set in stone! Please tell me if you are interested. Get on the notification list!

 

If you want to take a silver jewelry making workshop at the Spratling Ranch, please contact Violante directly. She is also starting a B&B there, so there are some accommodations. The ranch is in need of restoration so please support her efforts in any way you can. It’s an important part of Mexican history. Thank you!

  

 

 

 

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