Although Abodeon specializes in vintage Scandinavian and studio crafted jewelry, we’ve also featured antique Mexican sterling for over a decade. If you’re considering acquiring a piece, here’s a simple way to determine its general age.
Pre-1948. Mexico’s silver renaissance began in the 1920s, so most of the jewelry found today is from this time onward. Until 1948 silversmiths commonly stamped jewelry with their maker’s mark and Sterling, or the fineness of the silver. “Mexico Silver” or “Silver Made in Mexico” is also seen. These pieces are usually 925 sterling and above in their purity.
Pre-1948 “Silver Made in Mexico” + 1948-1979 Eagle Mark
1948-1979. An eagle mark (frequently mistaken for a bell) is added to to the hallmarks. Instituted by the Mexican government in 1948, the inside number on the eagle is either the city or the maker’s number. The system failed because some silversmiths used fake or borrowed stamps and numbers to avoid fees.
1980-Present. In 1979 the eagle was replaced by a letter (dash) number system. The first letter indicates the city (T is for Taxco, M is for Mexico City, etc.). The second letter is the first initial of the silversmith’s last name. The numbers are the silversmith’s number assigned at registration. For instance, if the number is 25, the silversmith was the 25th person to register at the city’s assay office.
Exception: Mass-produced Mexican jewelry is often without the letter/number marks. These pieces are frequently stamped Made in Mexico and Sterling, or Mexico 925. When in doubt, look at the mark. Newer pieces are stamped with modern fonts in addition to lacking the wear and patina of older jewelry.
I’ll post more on the jewelry and silversmiths of Mexico at a later date. Happy Friday! – Terri