Jade has an ancient history not just in Asia, but also in Mesoamerica, where it was used by cultures from the Olmec to the Maya to the Aztec. It symbolized life and death and was used to make figurines, jewelry, and even inlays for teeth.
These earrings are made in a small workshop in Antigua, Guatemala, by a skilled silver artisan named Marcelino Alvarado, who is the fourth generation of his family to craft sterling and jade jewelry. The earrings are cut from jade slabs by hand using special electric saws, then rounded and given their final shape on a grinding wheel. The silver is worked entirely by hand. Please note: The darkness of the stone may vary a little in these handcrafted accents.
Visit our Guatemalan Gift Shop to shop a range of items hand-crafted by artisans.
Guatemalan jade was prized for its density and strength as well as for its color, which ranged from the blue-green Olmec jade to the bright apple-green shade preferred by the Imperial Maya. Mesoamerican jade is found exclusively in Guatemala’s Motagua River valley and the Sierra de las Minas Mountains. Its rarity for millennia suggests that the exact location of mines was a well-kept secret.
La Antigua Guatemala, in the country’s central highlands, is famous for its baroque architecture, colonial churches, and the three volcanoes that surround the town. It was called Santiago de los Caballeros when it was founded, and served as the country’s capital city until a massive 1773 earthquake left more than 3,000 buildings in ruins and the government reestablished the capital thirty miles away in present-day Guatemala City. Today, the former capital is known as La Antigua Guatemala, or Old Guatemala, although most people simply call it Antigua.
Antigua is known for its elaborate Holy Week celebrations. They include large processions along cobblestoned streets that are covered with incredibly ornate “carpets” made out of colored sawdust, flower petals, and sand. Hundreds of men in purple robes carry floats, or andas, bearing huge statues of Christ and other saints.