Gold and silver were once the basis for Mexico’s wealth. Her Spanish conquerors plundered a mountain of gold—religious offerings, necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets—masterfully crafted by a legion of native metalsmiths and jewelers. Unfortunately, much of that indigenous tradition was lost because the Spanish denied access to precious metals to the Mexicans for generations while they introduced Spanish methods. Nevertheless, a small goldworking tradition survived the dislocations of the 1810–1821 War of Independence and the 1910-1917 revolution. Silver-crafting, moribund during the 1800s, was revived in Taxco, Guerrero, principally through the efforts of architect/artist William Spratling, working with the local community.
Today, spurred by the tourist boom, jewelry-making thrives in Mexico. Taxco, where dozens of enterprises—guilds, families, cooperatives—produce sparkling silver and gold adornments, is the acknowledged center. Many Puerto Vallarta regional shops sell fine Taxco products— shimmering butterflies, birds, jaguars,serpents, turtles, fish—reflecting pre-Columbian tradition. Taxco-made pieces, mostly in silver, vary from humble but good-looking trinkets to candelabras and place settings for a dozen, sometimes embellished with turquoise, garnet, coral, lapis, jade, and, in exceptional cases, emeralds, rubies, and diamonds.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition