When people hear what I do they make the assumption that I speak a fairly advanced level of Spanish. Sadly, that is not the case. I have learned hundreds of Spanish words and phrases over the years. The problem is, I can’t remember a single one of them when called upon. As a result, I leave the hotel each morning armed with the 25 solid Spanish words I learned in high school, a calculator, a couple of select hand gestures and a smile.
And for the most part, that works just fine. The only time it doesn’t work is when I visit Rosario. I love this girl and would give anything to sit and chat with her directly, without waving over someone to translate.
Here is what Rosario told us about herself:
“I met my husband [Bladimir] when he was 15 years old and I was his girlfriend for three years until we got married. He already had a silver workshop with his father so he had been making jewelry much longer, but for me it has been 25 years in the business. We also celebrate our 25th year of marriage this year! Can you believe it?!
He used to make jewelry for the big wholesalers in the Zócalo, but when we got married we moved to Pachuca and my husband worked for a company who made jewelry for the TANE brand. I worked as a security guard, and then as a secretary but they paid me very little and my job was very stressful!
When our daughter was born 22 years ago we moved back to Taxco and put up our own jewelry manufacturing workshop. I had to juggle second jobs for awhile at two of our local radio stations. I was a secretary, an accounting assistant and then a programmer – and that was very fun!
We started selling in the Tianguis [silver street market] and we started to get clients. Seventeen years ago we set up our store and I began to meet wholesale and foreign customers. I have always been the one who deals with the clients. I am the one who sells.” Rosario
It was a pretty steep climb up to Rosario’s house, followed by a couple flights of stairs up to Bladimir’s Workshop. After taking a few seconds at the top to catch our breath, under the guise of admiring the view, we stepped into the single room workshop built on top of their house.
The workers always begin with pure silver granules and add 5% to 7.5% copper to create a workable alloy. (btw, 92.5% silver + 7.5% copper = sterling silver) The liquid is poured into a wooden tray and allowed to harden into a shape something like a peg.
The peg is heated repeatedly and either pulled through diminishing dies to create wire, or sent back and forth through a press and rolled into sheets.
After the sheet cools, Bladimir traces the outline of the ring’s shank and cuts each piece out by hand, using a saw.
The flat piece is then formed around the mandrel that is calibrated for the size requested. In the meantime, more of that sheet has been hand cut to create a frame around each individual stone, and then a back plate is cut and soldered to the frame.
My respect for the craft – and the patience of the artisan – went through the roof after watching Bladimir make these rings. He added at least 10 steps between each of these pictures to twist and tweak each ring individually and ensure a perfect fit and finish. You can’t see any one of these minute steps, but you can definitely feel the difference!
“I get inspired by what is trending at the moment. For example, I see long earrings, and stone earrings, on television, soap operas and in magazines and I share my ideas with my brother who works with us, (and studied graphic design). I tell him, ‘why don’t we create an earring that is like this?’ He grabs my idea and with my husband and my brothers in the workshop, they say ‘Let’s see! We’re going to make two different samples to see which one works best, or which one you like the most.’ My husband and my brother (who worked at the bank but left that job), and my other brother (the graphic designer) all work in the workshop.
After Rosario’s daughter finished high school she began looking for Universities that offered a degree in Administration as well as a Study Abroad program. Although she is proficient in English (she practiced her English with me!) she asked if I would take a look at her application and check the content, as well as the grammar. I knew her mostly from working at the shop with her mom, but this was a great opportunity for me to talk with her about her hopes and encourage her dreams!
We were all thrilled when she was accepted to a school in Puebla and then enrolled in a study program that took her to Paris!!
Every young person should be exposed to the world outside of their hometown, and I’m grateful to Bladimir and Rosario for encouraging her to take such a monumental step. I am also quite proud of the little role Corazon Sterling played in supporting this family.