Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Los Castillo Pectoral Necklaces

I thought I would share some exquisite, yet super hard to find, Los Castillo Pectoral neclaces. These are typically pictured in any of the Big Books of Mexican Silver...most gracing the neclace of the author (Penny Morrill).
These necklaces have exceptional repousee work and are marked with an added circle tag with Los Castillo marks and design number. Usually, there is no backing, so the repousee work is easy to see. Some pieces, however, do have a backing. Despite this, their size they are deciptively light weight. One of the hallmarks of good workmanship.

I was able to acquire the Los Castillo Pectoral pictured above - I found a pic on Worthpoint archives where their description includes this piece selling for over $4k - In a good economy, that could even be true - Today though, I was able to acquire it for much less.

These I found on the Maestros de Taxco where it was POR or Price on Request - which you know I believe translates into over $3-4,000 and the Silver Huntress which listed their piece at a reasonable $2,200.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SIGI Mixed Media Plaque

Super hard to find at a good price Modernist Sigi Plaque.
The only draw back on these is that they are sooooo heavy (like 10 lbs.) that I always think the piece and or the wall on which it is hanging must be reinforced due to the weight factor.

There are smaller plaques but the full effect of the modernist piece could be lost or go unnoticed.

I got one some years ago at a super cheap price - and I ignorantly traded it for another piece. Mostly because I couldnt hang it due to the weight - So I would lean it against the wall. So since then, I dont trade and I have been looking to replace my super-modernist Sigi Plaque...and here it is. I havent seen it upclose and personal, but it looks like it might need a little buffing - like someone shoved in the closet against some stuff and got a bit scratchy...no big deal. Its a good price for this 20in by 10 in piece of art work by this artist...yay!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


This item just popped up on ebay. Here is the sellers description:

In all my years of collecting vintage Mexican Silver, I've never, ever found a piece marked by hard-to-find maker, Dia Diodato. And this puzzle/buckle bracelet is a true rarity indeed, vintage -- circa 1945. This is called a puzzle/buckle bracelet due to the unique way in which it clasps; if you don't know the trick, you won't be able to open it! The slide portion of the buckle set flips open which then allows you to move the tongue of the bracelet away from the prong that slips through one of the two open holes. Unique!

The other feature that makes this bracelet very unique is that the taller hand rivets two narrow, curved bars of rosewood along the sides of the bracelet, using a design/material motif that William Spratling also used. The bracelet is pin hinged in three places and all work very smoothly. A nice piece, a rare maker!

Hallmark: Dia Diodato Taxco Mexico 925


So I have to concur, in all my years of collecting, this is the first time I have seen this designer. When I did some quick checking I found nothing except for the name pop up on Sterling Hallmark pages.

The belt buckle design bracelet never did much for me tho - it seems every other designer was doing it too....So I ususally dont reach for it when I am shopping...Maybe now I will be more inclined to (tho I doubt it)...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Authentic or Reproduction Antonio

By request, I thought I would list a couple items listed on ebay that - to me - are questionable. Here is my opinion on 4 alleged Authentic Antonio Pineda - 3 bracelets and a necklace.
Above, is the necklace with an opening bid of $800. A similar necklace from about a year ago closed at around $3,000 - I remember cuz I was a low bidder - tho it was a bit over my little budget...
All four pieces do have the 970, Antonio crown mark, spread eagle with 17.
Now check all four items for a YY or ZZ mark on any of these items. There are absent, not there, missing.
Antonio also usually had design numbers on his pieces as well. Also, not present.

Now the mark pictured above with the eagle looks a bit hinkey to me...too wingy or something.
Additionally, one of the item location is Thailand - the others are in Paris...same seller. When I looked at the sellers feed back about a week ago, it was zero. Now its over 50.

When I first these pieces I was impressed but on closer examination, I'm not that sure. Now, I havent seen them and not handled them and I could be dead wrong. But this time around I probably wont be pulling out my ebay charge card...
Shop carefully and compare markings.

Here is what I think is good or authentic mark - note the YY and partial design number - this is from the Cross pendant necklace with moonstone hanging from velevet cord.

Brass Handmade Mexican

I see these every once in awhile...This one is currently on ebay BIN @ $49.
Handmade, kinda Brutalist in design brass/copper jewelry from Mexico - I dont think from Taxco but not sure. Acapulco more likely, since its closer to the Pal Kapeyne (sp?) who had a workshop just outside.
This pictured cuff bracelet looks like late 80's and 90's to me.
The jewelry pieces from this design era just scream Mexican-made -
I think you can tell just from the workmanship - and they were trying so hard.

American brutalist came about 2 decades earlier - The 60's and 70's. Also sometimes referred to as Hippie Jewelry.
Smaller in size, using the same or similar material of primarily Brass, you can clearly see their prefered design choice of organic mimimalist. American made brutalist period is my preferred brass jewelry pieces when I am spending my hard earned cash. The pieces were well crafted with attention to detail. I have yet to see any signed pieces but there is one designer that has a distinct design detail - he adds a cube somewhere in his jewelry. I happen to see and purchase a small cuff bracelet - I got it cuz of the cube. Who knew?! Sadly I cannot recall his name and God forbid they would have a signed any of their jewelry....

Having compared Mexican and American brutalist, noting my preference for American, I do have to note that one of my earlier posts referenced early Mexican Folk jewelry made from copper and brass. Because its clearly Folk Jewelry I would not refer to it as brutalist. Their only commonality is the material used.
Love Love Love Mexican Folk Jewelry - mostly the ingenuity at using readily available raw materials - yeah, the coins in their pockets and jars...

I am looking forward to a good reference book on Brutalist Brutish Brusque Very Affordable Jewelry.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Yeah its delayed AGAIN....
Well, I guess that its better than canceled and returning my $$$....So Amazon said late December. You know, now I just dont believe 'em. I will just wait til its in my mailbox or delivered....sigh.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SPRATLING Necklace Hands Holding Flowers

Iconic Spratling design of Hands Holding Flowers in carved amethyst.
This particular piece seems to have been separated from its original chain. The necklace like this I have seen has nicely designed hidden hook closures at each end. Which might explain why this one is missing.
The 'chain' is really composed of three separate strands of one inch sterling silver hollow beads. Very cool.
Kid can U please confirm you still have this necklace??
My kid loves to wear it to the grocery store...LOL There's no better place for Spraling...

Los Castillo Holloware -

Super cool modernist design with images of people holding up the bowl.
See the marks for the Los Castillo mark of TA-01 registered to the workshop.
Most of the bowls and such I have seen are silver plated. This one is marked as sterling. Currently on ebay with a reserve of who knows what. The current bid is pretty low so we will have to ck on it later - - -

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Nothing makes my heart beat faster like a CLEARANCE SALE especially if its TAXCO Mexican Vintage Jewelry...
Ck out Eriks website and good luck....

Eisenberg Original in Mexico

Rare and hard to find - these are now popping up on ebay.
This one has a reserve with an opening bid of $9.99.
The workmanship is ok - actually, its not very good at all.
I have to ck my books to see which workshop executed the Eisenberg line.
Eisenberg took the same route as Marcel Boucher and Coro - American companies that during the second world war went to Mexico in search of Sterling and new and exciting designs....
Except for Eisenberg Original, the designs and workmanship from Mexico (Parisina, Coro) were exceptional.
My opinion of course. I do like that Eisenberg Original are rustic looking with mesoamerican designs....Other than the green stones, I havent seen any other colored stones...
OK so how many Eisenberg Originals do you have??
Here is a bit more info I found:

During the 40's some of the costume jewelry being sold in the US by US companies was "outsourced" to Mexico. Eisenberg Original produced some silver & non-silver jewelry there, much of it set with a dyed green onyx. If you read Vintage Fashion & Costume Jewelry, you will find an article "Eisenberg Ole'" about these pieces, authored by Bobye Syverson, in Vol. 17 No. 1, 2007, one picture presented here = www.Sparklz.com/706/u70624pic.jpg .

Collectors Weekly just published this article on Eisenberg just this week:
Rhinestone Dynasty: Karl Eisenberg Talks About His Family’s Costume Jewelry
See item number 6 for the Eisenberg in Mexico info.
However, the info is still limited and there is no mention or pic of the Eisenberg Original pieces from Mexico. Which you know are a stark contrast to their exceptionally made jewelry.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Patzcuaro INSPIRED Earrings From Taxco


When I saw these they just screamed Patzcuaro. Now, there are a couple of issues with that: First, they are marked or stamped TAXCO with a spread eagle mark of what looks like 191. Second, I have not seen any documented earrings in this particular style for Patzcuaro.
OK so why do I think they are Patzcuaro?
For the two obvious reasons: fish & coral.
Despite the markings - I'm going with design on this one and say its Patzcuaro.
I love them and they are a full 3 inches long = how cool are they?!


I wanted to get a second expert opinion on my self-proclaimed Patzcuaro earrings...I asked the proprietor of OLDBEADS to ck them out - Here is his discussion -


I am pretty sure they are not typical in any way and not illustrating any particular style. The fish don't mean much anymore as far as placing where they were made as there are plateros all over Mexico using the fish image now.

And truly, coral is not that typical in Patzcuaro - there is no access to coral other than buying it from someone bringing it from the Gulf - they have generally used glass beads the colour of coral.

This is most likely a contemporary platero in Taxco who has designed their own piece - this is not tradition in any sense but a personal design. The screw on earrings are more a european style as well - most Mexican women have pierced ears, pierced when they are still babes.

my opinion...

So because they are marked TAXCO my expert believes, and I have to agree, that these are really Patzcuaro inspired since there is no similar documented design for these.
Despite this, they are really cool....

Thanks Silva for your time and expertise in assessing my earrings...Tia

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Form & Function Marbeth's New Book

Not sure when this came out but I just ordered it on Amazon.
It features American studio slash modernist from 1940 - 1970.
I hope Marbeth goes on a book signing tour with Borders cuz I would really like a signed copy and have pic with her...yay!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guadalupe Castellanos Grotesque & Rare

Oh La La - Rare and hard to find - Mostly because this Taxco designer has no noted or documented signature...Instead, collectors are challenged to identify the characteristics of work.

Luckily for me, these earrings were pictured in the Davis & Pack book - see page 204 Plate 130. Its actually a drawing of the earrings with an accurate description of sterling and brass. The only markings on my earrings is Mexico Silver. Also, they are bigger than I anticipated about 2 1/2 inches long - the outside border is sterling with the dimpled interior brass. Pre-hispanic motif, well constructed and pierced to boot.

I liked Gualdalupe's idea of no markings - you really have to dig to find any of his work...Grotesque though it is...I love it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Celia Harms Mexican Sterling Designer

How cool is this ring? It screams modernist in design and certainly looks Scandinavian - a bit NE From-esque...
So I was pleasantly surprised to see a Mexico marking - You will note I say Mexico and not Taxco specifically. For two reasons. The most obvious is it is not signed or marked Taxco but Mexico. Second, I can find nothing about Celia Harms.

If you have any info about Celia Harms that you can share, I would certainly appreciate it...I checked the Hallmark Mexico page (925-1000) and the Mystery Marks (Modern Silver) page - I got nothing.
Does anyone know Marbeth? Maybe she can shed some light on this designer...
Here are a couple more examples - BTW I have no Celia Harms in my collection - Yeah, now you know its made my must have list....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

PARISINA Marcel Boucher in Mexico

I was traveling and was fortunate enough to catch a flea market...
I found this great Parisina Dancer brooch - the back pin is missing but the price was right. Its great...My dancer brooch is blue but I found other colors including yellow and greet. Prices varied for this dancer brooch but most started at around $200

Here are a couple of other Marcel Boucher pieces as samples. I think they are distinct and identifiable (I think) as MB...gotta love it...


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I just received this message from Amazon:

Unfortunately, we are unable to ship the item(s) as soon as we expected and need to provide you with a new estimate of when the item(s) may be delivered:

Penny C. Morrill "Margot Van Voorhies The Art of Mexican Enameled Jewelry"
Estimated arrival date: December 24 2010

Close your eyes - Take a deep sigh - Relax -
It will arrive soon - Really - soon....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Armadillo Necklace in Copper?! Yup

How did I miss the copper version of this Hector Aguilar Armadillo necklace? Super cool - nice HA marks with nice light brown velvet ribbon cord. So cool - opening bid at just under $900 (ouch!)

Los Ballesteros Mark on Matl Design - Authentic or Fake?

Matl design with Los Ballesteros mark brooch currently on eBay.
The design is clearly Matl or Salas or Domingues - take your pick.
This design and style is reproduced over and over.
But this brooch clearly has the Los Ballesteros markings even tho (to my limited knowledge) there is NO documented Matl design by the Los Ballesteros workshop.

Look at the marks in the pics - it was applied after the brooch was completed.
Me and my friend have debated this in the past:

Are applied marks fake?

I say they are fake - stamped on a separate piece of silver, cut out, then tacked on a finished piece.
Authentic pieces dont have applied or tacked marks.
They are stamped or marked right on the piece.
No pieces, no tacking.

My friend disagrees. She believes that the pieces are authentic even tho the markings are stamped and then placed separately.

I'm hoping the pics help to distinguish authentic designer pieces from those that are not.

Applied Antonio mark on bamboo design bracelet:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My New Patzcuaro Brooch Miguel Covarrubias Design

Ahem,how nice is this sterling silver Patzcuaro brooch?
I compared it to the Davis and Pack Covarrubias design and the folks in my brooch are facing the opposite way. Also, mine is not as detailed - which is ok cuz it is still great. Super hard to find and way cool.

Signed DAG Taxco - dont know who DAG is but I know who its not - Sr. Jesus Cazares..thats ok though - its still nice!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pluma Azteca Los Castillo

I believe Los Castillo is the only workshop that does the Pluma Azteca technique really well. I have seen other pluma azteca pieces but not marked by Los Castillo. The technique is really quite different using feathers much the pliqueajour (sp) of the Europeans.

Pluma Azateca is frequently mistaken for enameling - why? I couldnt say - clearly its not.

So keep your eyes peeled for your Los Castillo find.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tita Rubli - Oaxacan Jewelry

I blogged about Tita and her Mazahua Jewelry - her website offers traditional Oaxacan Jewelry for less that what you find on other websites including ebay.
So I had to order a couple of pairs of earrings just to ck it out. One with coral colored stones.
Just got em yesterday - loved one pair - the other pair with the coral disappointed as the corals were different colors. I dont really like stones in my earrings but when they dont match, its just not pretty....

Overall, though I thought it was a good buy and next time I know to ask about the color of the stones.


Maria Belen Nilson - Artist or Copier?

I saw this super cute brooch on ebay - the description says its sort of a reproduction by an original design by Margot. First, I dont think it was Margot I think it was Los Castillo (yes, Margot was married to Antonio). And second, I was unable to verify that this mark is Maria Belen. I did find her bio on the Novica website which says she is from Argentina....
So, just to confirm my position on reproductions - I generally dont approve.
I say generally cuz there are some exceptions like the nice Patzcuaro pin that I blogged about before...I saw it and it was Nice. Nicely done and well made.

This however, to me anyway, looks like a repro. Given that, I think its way overtpriced. I bet you can find the real Margot or Los Catillo for the same price or less.

So Can Anyone Confirm that this is Maria Belens mark?? Thanks

Friday, October 15, 2010

October is Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

I think every day is some kinda cancer awareness.

I know people with Ovarian, Kidney, pancreatic and Lung cancer...
The pink ribbons arent for them. I'm not even sure they have a color (Oh they prob do). But PINK seems to be the polical winner in awarness and funding...
For all that you would think that a cure is just a few months away...oh well, Cancer Sucks there is just no two ways around it...

In observation of October Breast Cancer Awareness I wanted to post this fabulous Margot in Pink. Pink is kindaofa rare color is Mexican jewelry. So I thought this was cool....It sold for $2100

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yalalag Cross - More

(Image from the Colonial Arts dot com website)

See my entry below from the Amigos Del Arte Popular about the cruz de yalalag.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mexican Folk Jewelry - Crosses - La Cruz

I continue to research and seek information on the Yalalag cross.
The picture is an example with red heart beads and sterling beads.
I came across this brief historical paragraph on crosses in Mexican Folk Jewelry:

The Cross in Folk Jewelry

Jewelry crosses were not worn in the Americas until the Conquest. (I doubt this statement since its contradicted in the next sentence.). Since then, jewelry crosses of fantastic variety have adorned many "Americans," be they South, Central, or North Americans. Among the most interesting is the Yalalag Cross of San Juan Yalalag, Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. Its basic design, which predates the Conquest, consists of a central cross from which hang three lesser crosses. The decorative elements in the design can be Indian in origin (usually geometric) or Christian (wings, hearts, flowers). A neighboring town, Choapan, uses a cross depicting Christ's head and a pictograph of the Passion (Arma Christi), a Franciscan representation. A cross with two arms in the upper half is called a Patriarchal Cross. This design, combined with two angels, the Caravaca Cross, is found not only in Spain but also in many parts of Mexico and South America. The Maya traditionally used an equilateral cross (the Greek form), representing the four directions or cardinal points. This cross is associated with astronomical / religious orientation and with the Tree of Life. Despite this strong visual tradition, the jewelry cross of Guatemala is usually of the Roman type.

The crucified Jesus has long been interpreted according to local custom and racial origin. His is shown in many diverse styles, the principal idea always being to show "God as Man." The missionaries were adaptable in their interpretations of Christ, following in general the color, style, or manner of those being proselytized. Thus, in contrast with the more austere European Christ, the Latin American Cristo is of a more relaxed, naive (naive? Really?) and sensual form, as seen in Peruvian and Bolivian jewelry crucifixes.

So the Cross symbol, like all symbols, is "a key to a realm greater than itself and greater than the man who employs it," to quote symbolist JC Cooper. It is a simpler, lower expression of a higher truth. Throughout all of the Americas, the cross remains, in all its forms and interpretations—be they native cosmological or European-derived Christian—a potent symbol and force.

Written by Patricia LaFarge to accompany an exhibition at El Rancho de las Golondrinas remote a living-history museum in La Cienega, NM, south of Santa Fe.

Pajaritos De Guanajuato from Mexico DF

You know I like jewelry from Guanajato - this little bird ring is great.
I got it on ebay from masv29. Masv29 is in Mexico City and does offer some nice Taxco sterling items.

However, I failed to read the delivery details - yeah, delivery is 30 business days. So I should receive my item sometime before Christmas...sigh!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Barrera For Avon - Barrera?! Really?

Saw this posting on ebay - Barrera for Avon...
OK so who is Barrera? When did Barrera make or design jewlery for Avon??

This bracelet is listed under the Mexican Jewelry category - I thought it was a very nice design and also I'm curious to know more about the designer....Do you have any info on this Barrera designer??
Opening bid is a mere $9.99 and it looks a gold tone material.
This bracelet was released in 1989 and is called Corinthian. It was re-released in 2007 in Silver by Avon...
Here is a bit of info I found on Illusion Jewels website:

Jose Maria Barrera for Avon 1989-1996

And this at the Great Vintage Jewelry website:

These dazzlers were made by Barrera for Avon in the early 1990s and the design is called Florentine. It was not mass produced and all Barrera jewelry is now eagerly sought by collectors.

Finally, this from Becca's Best Jewelry:

Avon jewelry authority and author Sandra Sturdivant, in her book “Identifying AVON JEWELRY”, ... “In 1989, he began contributing upscale jewelry designs with a Spanish influence for Avon. Each piece is innovative and imaginative, and they prove that costume jewelry can be as beautiful as the ‘real thing’.”

He also has many of his designer pieces selling at Neiman-Marcus.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Pasadena = The Folk Tree

Some years ago, my friend dragged me to this store in Pasadena. It didnt look impressive - until I walked in! Rocky Behr (owner) frequently visits and travels to Mexico - especially Michoacan. She really really likes Dia de Los Muertos and offers tours thru the area during muertos season. Ck out her website which also you can also do a virtual visit.

Now, what is not on the website is her selection of jewelry from Oaxaca and Michoacan. Occasionally, she also has vintage sterling Taxco jewelry. Altho I havent seen any top designers they are pretty decent....So if you are anywhere near Southern Calif, make it a point to visit her shop in Pasadena.

Oh yeah, she usually has an exhibit from well known and local artisans...