Caroline's Jewelry with a Past is offering a sterling silver mid-century modern Mosaico Azteca necklace and earrings demi-parure in the Los Castillo of Taxco Mexico design style #170 circa 1950-1965 . The inlaid azurite and malachite rectangular pieces are accented by silver edge decoration. This piece is fashioned with a Greek key or meander design. The 14 rectangular pieces are attached with loops at the top to allow a smooth fit on the neck. The necklace is 15-1/2" long X 1/2" wide (maximum dimensions). This piece has a tongue and groove closure. It weighs 93.7 grams. The back is marked "Sterling” + "Taxco" + an indecipherable Eagle mark. The earrings are individual rectangular pieces like the necklace. They are screw back and weigh 13.4 grams. One back is marked "Mosaico Azteca" + "Sterling". The second is marked "170" + "Made in Mexico"+ the Eagle 15 mark + in scratched letters "Silver". The combined weight of all 3 pieces is 95.6 grams. While these are not marked "Los Castillo", the pieces are their design "170".
The Los Castillo workshop was founded in Taxco Mexico in 1939 by the Castillo brothers, Antonio, Coco and Chato, along with Antonio's wife Margot van Voorhies Carr (Margot de Taxco), and their cousin Salvador Teran. The brothers worked for William Spratling during the 1930's. Margot did a number of the early Los Castillo designs until she left about 1949 to start her own business. Los Castillo is still in business and is the longest continuously operating silversmith in Taxco. Design and craftsmanship has always been a hallmark of the workshop. The Mosaico Azteca line was started about 1950 and continued through 1965. The procedures to make this necklace were adapted from Aztec techniques. It is created from a silver base with raised contours outlining the piece and inlaying pieces of stone. Since this technique requires a precise and expert craftsman since the stone inlay is relatively thin and brittle, it was expensive and time consuming to produce.
The silver content of this piece has been tested using standard accepted testing methods, such as acid testing. The pieces are marked "Sterling".
When you own vintage handmade jewelry, you wear a design that is unique and represents the artist's vision. It is made by a skilled craftsman and can have features which are only found in this piece. The jewelry may exhibit the marks of the craftsman. It will not be perfect. The inlay techniques are mosaic style and use a matrix to hold the stone in place. Edge wear and spaces in the material are common and were original to the piece. Vintage silver items may also show age appropriate tarnish. This piece has light patina.