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rare Cecilia Tono Mexican silver Bracelet ~ mixed metals, mozaico inlay and figural appliques

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It is very tempting after years and years of looking for, handling, buying and selling vintage Mexican silver jewelry to think that one has eventually “seen it all” and even flirt with a false sense of semi-omniscience! And just when this idea seems to coalesce into a belief, there comes this unexpected, never encountered before piece that shatters it all – in the best, most rewarding way possible! This superbly crafted Cecilia / Tono bracelet is undoubtedly one of those moving examples. Not much is known about the two names signing it – more research is desperately needed before we lose all connection to those amazing maestros – but they are associated with the highest quality of piedra negra, mozaico azteca and metales casados jewelry. In our case the techniques come together in a jaw-dropping, very rarely seen piece of wearable art. I will rest my case...

Los Ballesteros Mexican silver and amethyst modernist Dangle Earrings

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Dashing early modernist Mexican silver and amethyst earrings with the signature of the Los Ballesteros workshop, this set is a variation on the “clamshell” type of jewelry that was so popular with modernist Taxco maestros in the mid- to later 1940s. Having taken their name from the concave, clamshell-like silver platform within which semi-precious and polished hard-stones are housed, this sub-genre of Mexican beauties is characterized by absolute minimalism that is only tempered by the lusciousness of the stones. Yet when it comes down to the Los Ballesteros, you can count on them for an added twist – the classic Taxco addition of the repousse “question mark” station holding the dangle…   Size/Weight: 2 1/4″ long by 5/8″ wide; 20.8 grams (for the set) Hallmarks / Date: fully signed with the workshop’s logo as shown as well as...

Salvador Teran Mexican silver surrealist portrait Pendant Necklace

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Salvador Teran is, in my opinion, the most inspired of the Taxco modernists. His work is complex and layered; his juxtaposition of deeply oxidized and shiny silver surfaces reminiscent of the chiaroscuro in earlier European paitings; his surrealist figures a priceless treasure when one finds them. Playfully articulated, the “portrait of a man” (I will call it) forming the pendant in the rare necklace at hand is the epitome of Teran’s design genius as is the hand-made chain alluding to pre-Colombian motifs…   Size/Weight: pendant is 3” long by 1  3/8” wide; chain is 22  3/4” long; 50.1 grams (for the set) Hallmarks / Date: Teran’s name in script as well as “MEXICO STERLING” and des. no 136; no Eagle assay mark but I will say ca 1950 Condition: excellent vintage with great patina, fantastic design and execution, the oxidation in almost perfect...

Giles Mexican Deco silver and turquoise Pendant Necklace ~ massive carved “warrior mask”

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Not much is known about maestro (N) Giles of Taxco. It seems that many of his pieces were sold at Plateria Rancho Alegre and since, according to Bille Hougart, not all of his jewelry was signed, a good part of his work might have been lost to us. It only takes a look at the “mask’s” elaborate headdress, however, to realize that Giles was one of the accomplished maestros of his time. Bold, with intense features, the “Aztec warrior” is carved out of turquoise with rich veining that has been glazed once the carving was completed. Paired with a hefty, hand-made sterling silver chain the pendant is massive and, in my opinion, a work of wearable art. What impresses me more is the effect the veining in the stone has on the way the piece presents. The face looks as if behind cracked glass; as if it shatters time and space to reach the modern world from the other end of the...

Manuel Altamirano Mexican silver “armadillo” Belt Buckle

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An early Taxco maestro, Manuel Altamirano worked for both Aguilar and Valentin Vidaurreta. With the former, he shares what has come to be known as the “armadillo” parure, out of which you can see here the quite impressive belt buckle. Evocative of the “armor plates” covering the body of the namesake creatures, the buckle’s links are graduated in size and adorned with short, flat-topped round appliques. Big and bold, it can be worn easily by either men and women and would look equally stunning on a leather, suede or even fabric belt…   Size/Weight: 5 1/4″ long (when fastened); width between 2 1/4″ and 1 1/4″; 71.2 grams Hallmarks / Date: maker’s name as shown as well as “TAXCO MEX” and “925”; 1940s Condition: very good vintage with eye-catching design and proportions, with warm, glowing patina and no damage or...

Mexican Deco silver and turquoise dagger-shaped Letter Opener

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Though the art of letter writing (not to mention … writing in general) seems to have been lost to our 21st c. societies, its important part in our cultural heritage is proven by the volumes of famous writers’, artists’ and politicians’ correspondence that inhabit library shelves, and the dusty, yellowed family letters still hidden out of sight in our attics. And then, of course, there are the letter-writing (and reading) “paraphernalia” that have survived and become collectible treasures and decorator must-haves like the Mexican Deco sterling silver letter opener at hand. If one can use the adjective “sweet” next to a noun like “dagger”, this is the perfect case. Beautifully made, with a warmly glowing patina that makes the design’s curves look rounder and softer, it is completed with a carved stone idol handle and a...