Mexican jewelry has been a popular buy to the American tourist since the turn of the century. It was also around this time that the jewelry craft was taught to the Southwest American Indians by the Mexicans. The Spanish love for spectacular effects and the Indian talent for expressive decoration together created many of the Mexican jewelry we see today in America.
Before the Revolution and Spanish bombardment, Mexico was considered to be in its pre-hispanic era. This was when mostly Indians occupied the land. The pre-hispanic Mexican Indians used motifs such as animals, serpents, fish, snails, turtles, birds, and butterflies. Popular for their emotional expression they also used grotesque and distorted figures to adorn their jewelry. The most important feature of pre-hispanis jewelry were the cascabeleses. The cascabeleses are little bells which hung either separately or in rows on many of the jewels to give sound and movement. These bells vary in shape and can be anywhere for 1 to 5 inches long. Mexicans tend to be very religious people. Crosses, metals of the Santa Maria de Guadalupe, and religious symbols are commonly worn. Other such symbols that appear on religious jewelry include a scalloped shell, which stood for pilgrimage to the holy land and Baptism and a sun which symbolizes both to Indians and Spaniards life giving power.