Amber is a natural resin that takes thousands of years to form. It’s an organic semiprecious stone, so it is considered very valuable, just like pearls or corals. Some people even believe that amber has certain properties, such as bringing good fortune.
Mexican amber usually comes from Simojovel de Allende, a small town in the state of Chiapas. This amber is extraordinarily beautiful and can include several different colors that add to its beauty and range from bright yellow and orange to deep brown and moss green. It is extracted and cut by hand to decorate earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or rings.
You’ll find a whole lot of imitation amber out there made of plastic, glass, or mixed with other stones, so how do you tell apart the real from the fake? First, take a close look, it’s a natural resin, so it should have an irregular shape and certain “imperfections.” No two stones are alike, when you look closely you should see the differences at their centers. Then, touch it. It should feel warm, not hard. You can also smell it, when you rub the piece with your finger it should smell like resin or pine. It should also be lightweight and when put to ultraviolet light, you’ll see blue or brown specks.
Ideally, buy your amber at an established and reputable shop, try not to get too carried away with sales, and check for the piece’s place of origin. As for prices, a ring can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,800 pesos, depending on the design and size.
Tenango de Hidalgo
Tenango is a type of embroidery from Tenango de Doria, in the state of Hidalgo. It is best known for featuring brightly colored animals, flowers, and trees usually over a black or white backdrop. It’s one of the best-known and most colorful textiles around, so much so that it has been named part of the cultural heritage of México.
Each piece is made by a single artisan who embroiders the design in cotton or wool thread after having drawn it onto the fabric and selected the colors. This work is done by hand and it requires tremendous skill and concentration. The embroidery is usually so tight that you can’t see the background through the thread. The Tenango stitch also called a crow’s foot stitch, is small and if you turn it over, you shouldn’t see any folds, just lines around the outline of the design. Pillowcases usually run for $800 or $950 pesos; placemats are between $400 and $500 pesos each, and a table runner will usually cost between $2,400 and $3,200 pesos.
Editorial by Violeta H. Cantarell
Born in Mérida, Violeta is a communicologist dedicated to writing and creating content on tourism, fashion, and entrepreneurship. She has recently started working as an English-Spanish translator.
Photography by Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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