Why is Mexico famous for….?

What else is Mexico famous for other than just Tacos and Tequila?

Now I love Tacos and Tequila, but Mexico is also famous for Silver.  The most famous mined area was in Taxco, Mexico; in the 1800s, many silver artisans flocked to Taxco and honed their craft.  That is why, to this day, Mexico is famous for silver.

The big Taxco silver mine.

Silver has a long and rich history in Taxco, a city whose history extends back to well before Spanish colonization.

The tradition of Mexico silver in Taxco is still alive even though the mine is no longer active.   Taxco trained artisans are still considered some of the best in the world.

Taxco is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Mexico, the city’s historic architecture is a mix of antique, traditional houses, colonial building facades, and breath-taking churches.

The city’s landscape is just as picturesque. Rolling hills and mountains surround and run through the city. It’s no wonder Taxco is one of the oldest mining sites in all of the Americas.

Now silver is no longer mined in Taxco itself — the mines are empty! Silver is mined in a town several hours away and brought to Taxco so that the famous Taxco artisans can design and work on the silver to make beautiful jewelry.

What does Silver .925 mean?

Silver is a precious metal. Silver metal is used in many bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold: while it is more abundant than gold. Its purity is typically measured on a per-mille basis; a 94%-pure alloy is described as “0.940 fine”.  As one of the seven metals of antiquity, silver has had an enduring role in most human cultures.

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. Or you can find .950, which is also good quality usually used on more expensive pieces.

So why not buy 99.9% pure silver? It’s because it would be quite soft; silver has to be alloyed with copper to increase its hardness and strength so that you can enjoy and wear your jewelry for much longer. You hear of Sterling silver tarnishing because the jewelry manufacturers have used elements other than copper to reduce tarnishing.

A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver,

the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other markings to indicate the date of manufacture and additional information about the piece. In some countries, the testing of silver objects and purity marking is controlled by a national assayer’s office.

Hallmarks are applied with a hammer and punch, a process that leaves sharp edges and spurs of metal. Therefore, hallmarking is generally done before the piece goes for its final polishing.

What else is silver used for?

Silver has many uses, and we can get very scientific here, but to keep it simple, here are some examples of what other items you can find silver.  Currency coins and bullion, solar panels, water filtration, and jewelry.   Silver ornaments, high-value tableware, and utensils.  Silver is in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings.  Silver is also used in the catalysis of chemical reactions as a colorant in beautiful stained glass.

Watch out for fakes or miss represented Silver in Mexico…

When you are shopping for silver jewelry in Mexico, go to a reputable Silver store, you can search online on TripAdvisor or google maps for each store’s ratings or comments.  Trust me, if tourists before you have been ripped off, they will write about it online.

Also, use your judgment, feel the weight of the jewelry. Silver comes in .925 silver and .950 silver. The lower number is used on less quality jewelry, and the .950 silver is used on your finer jewelry. Both are standard weights, so decide if you want to buy a finer piece of jewelry or an everyday piece that you can wear. If the pieces have semi-precious gemstones, then feel the weight and craftsmanship of the piece.  Is it well made?  If there are any scratches or tarnishing already happening, if so, don’t buy that and try another store.

If the sales associate is pressurizing you into buying jewelry, then think twice; again, use your instincts and look at the pieces closely before deciding to buy.    Please take a look at the price; we can all be tempted by a bargain, but when something is too good to be true. It is too good to be true!

I once had a lady come to my desk on the Crystal Symphony so pleased that she bought a 3-carat Tanzanite (so she thought) in silver for USD 50.  I politely explained that she got a beautiful looking ring, but the stone wasn’t real Tanzanite, and the silver looked low quality.  But for $50, she got her monies worth; this happens all the time.  We get taken in by a great deal; sometimes getting a silly price is a red flag.  The best thing to do is to educate yourselves, even if it is just the basics.

Rhodium-plated Silver – what is it?

Crystal Seahorse Pendant.
Sterling silver, rhodium plated. Includes 18-inch silver chain with lobster clasp and jump ring at 17 inches.

 

Rhodium is a rare and precious element that can be 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is silver-hued, highly reflective, and does not tarnish or corrode. It is harder than gold and is highly durable.

So why don’t we ever see jewelry that is just made out of Rhodium?  This is because it is a very brittle metal and is not easily shaped or formed; therefore, pure rhodium cannot be made into jewelry. Rhodium, on its own, can easily crack and break like glass. But when used to plate other jewelry, rhodium enhances the durability of the metal.  Making it perfect to coat Silver, Silver can easily tarnish over time; therefore, modern Silver pieces have been Rhodium plated to increase the durability, luster, and light reflection of a piece of jewelry. Because it is a hard metal, a rhodium-plated piece of jewelry will be more scratch-resistant. Rhodium plating is also used on silver-hued metals, such as white gold, palladium, or silver.

Sterling silver is a perfect metal for Rhodium plated to enhance silver because silver will tarnish over time. To prevent this, rhodium plating silver jewelry will ensure that the piece is highly lustrous and remains tarnish-free for a long time.  Over time, as the plating wears off, the white of the silver will come through; you won’t notice it too much, but as the silver is exposed, sections may acquire some tarnish, but this can easily be polished at home or take it to a local jeweler who can Rhodium dip or re-plate your jewelry for longer-lasting wear.

Is rhodium plated jewelry safe to wear?

SEAHORSE UNDERWATER SCENE PENDANT – Sterling silver. Includes an 18-inch silver chain with a lobster clasp and a jump ring at 17 inches.

Yes, because rhodium plating is hypoallergenic, you won’t get skin reactions by wearing rhodium-plated jewelry. This is because rhodium does not contain any allergens such as nickel. In fact, if you have a piece of jewelry that is causing you skin reactions, rhodium plating the piece can eliminate this problem.  While rhodium itself will not cause any rashes, some metals often contain nickel in its alloys. As the rhodium plating wears off, you may be exposed to nickel allergies as your skin comes into contact with the original metal of the jewelry; again, take it to a reputable jeweler and have it re-dipped in Rhodium.

Where can you find great Silver Jewelry online?

When writing this, no ships are cruising to the Caribbean or Mexico, but if you’re missing shopping during a cruise, check out these lovely silver Caribbean inspired pieces we have on our website.  I also found this great website selling silver .925 jewelry online since 2014 with unique Mexican designs called The Mexican Silver Store.

 

 

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