Whether you’re hanging out on Sandy Beach or sipping margaritas at one of the many restaurants on or near the beach in Rocky Point, there is no doubt you’ve seen the beach vendors peddling their wares. “Good price today” or “Good price for you, my friend” sing songs through the air as they draw you in and dazzle your eyes with their case full of sparkling silver jewelry. Gobs of rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, anklets and earrings all saying, “buy me, buy me”. As soon as you scan the case, they’ve got you…and so it begins…the bartering and buying.
Since New World explorations began, Mexico has been one of the largest silver producers in the world. With its beautiful luster, versatility and inexpensive price, silver is used in a wide variety of items from a pinkie ring to the most elaborate table and home decorations. As far as jewelry goes, silver can be worn with any style and is often adorned with gemstones or turquoise for some fantastic designs.
Since pure silver is too soft to be used alone in jewelry making it is often mixed with other metals (mostly copper and more recently platinum) to make it more durable for everyday wear. The most popular silver jewelry is made of “sterling silver” which is a blend of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper: the copper makes the jewelry harder, but also makes it tarnish so it needs to be stored in a cool, dry place or in a tarnish prevention cloth. Of course you can always polish it, as most of us do, with a variety of products available on the market today from pastes to dips. Platinum and pure silver are also used together in jewelry making it harder and more tarnish resistant, but also pricier.
Here in Rocky Point, the beach vendors and shops in Old Port along the Malecon and on “Rodeo Drive” have a wealth of silver jewelry. There is so much to choose from it is often hard to make a decision, so allow plenty of time when shopping. And a great thing is you never feel rushed because the shop owners and vendors are always so patient and accommodating.
All silver is stamped with the percentage of silver used. If you are looking at rings they are usually stamped on the inside and if you are looking at necklaces or bracelets, look on the clasp. If the piece says “sterling” or “sterling silver” it will be followed by a number that tells you the amount of pure silver the piece contains. (Sterling silver is defined as a mixture with 92.5% or above of pure silver.) For example, if the ring is stamped .975 then it is 97.5% pure silver and if it has .925 then it is has 92.5% pure silver. Every piece of authentic silver jewelry will be stamped. Some are even stamped with the city in which it was created: I have seen Taxco on a lot of pieces.
There are ways to test if your item is real silver or not, but many tests are not feasible when buying silver jewelry off the beach. If your item is large then you can try the magnet test – if the magnet sticks then it is not authentic because silver is not magnetic. You can also deep scratch the item in an inconspicuous place and do an acid test. If you deep scratch the piece and copper shows below the surface then you know it is plated. If the scratch turns green then it is a low grade silver or silver plated. If it is sterling silver the scratch will turn a creamy color. The acid kit is sold at jewelry stores, online and at some popular stores and contains a color chart. The results are instant. Electronic testers are also available, but for $900 USD you’d have to buy a heck of a lot of silver! Weight and water displacement tests are also accurate, but you might look weird lying on the beach with your book, sunscreen and science kit, but hey, we’ve seen worse. Might be fun to do if you have kids with you.
I have purchase many pieces of silver jewelry from beach vendors and shops in Rocky Point over the past 16 years and every one of them needs to be polished! Any takers? The designs these days are much more elaborate and elegant than they were back in 1995: absolutely stunning pieces – even from the beach vendors. Galeria del Mar Bermejo, located behind the church in Old Port has silver pieces paired with coral, gemstones, shells, etc. and the pieces are fantastic! Just absolutely gorgeous. Great gifts (hint-hint) or find that matching piece that goes with your fabulous new outfit. Galeria del Mar Bermejo is one of many galleries that sell silver jewelry and they are definitely worth a look-see.
Sandy Beach is a great place to lay your towel down or stay rent a condo and meet a number of beach vendors who slug their wares up and down the beach all day – even in August and September. You can also find vendors and their black cases filled with shiny silver along the Malecon and in other popular tourist places. They really do have everything and little stuff for kids. It’s fun to try on all the jewelry and barter for the best price. Hint: The more people there are to sell to, the harder you’ll have to barter, but you can expect to always get a great price on some very elegant or casual pieces.
Thanks to eHow.com for technical and testing information.
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