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   Part III
  Cufflinks from Mexico

Links to All About Cufflinks:

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V



The Los Castillo workshop was founded in Taxco in 1939 by the Castillo brothers (Antonio, Coco, and Chato), along with Antonio's wife Margot van Voorhies Carr, and their cousin Salvador Teran. Los Castillo is the longest enduring workshop in Taxco, and is still in business today with a reputation for the best in both design and craftsmanship.


In the early years of the workshop, Los Castillo was a creative cauldron with many talented designers and maestro silversmiths, that originated techniques inspired by pre-Hispanic artisans that were unique to mid-century Mexican metalworking. Technical genius, Chato Castillo, originated most of these, including metales casados (married metals), onix negro (black onyx inlay), mosaico azteca (stone inlay in silver), and pluma azteca (a sort of stained glass effect from multicolored feathers set in resin and framed in silver), among many others.

Early pieces from the Los Castillo workshop can often be attributed to a particular designer such as Margot or Salvador Teran by the distinctive styles they went on to produce in their own workshops after leaving Los Castillo. Fledgling silver designers ,Sigi Pineda and Miguel Melendez, both worked at Los Castillo, before working for Margot when she opened her own workshop, and then went on to produce their own work a few years later. Both Chato and Coco Castillo remained with the family business, but often marked their  pieces with their own marks, and there are strong collector followings for their unique work.


Margot van Voorhies Carr arrived in Mexico City in 1937.  While there, she met and became friends with Maria Castillo and the two traveled together to Taxco where she was introduced to and eventually married Antonio Castillo, who put her to work designing jewelry that he would create.  She was a talented designer who worked for many years creating some of Los Castillo's most successful designs.  In 1948, she opened her own shop, Margot de Taxco, and eventually, had over 20 silversmiths and ten enamelists on her staff.  Her work is unique and very desirable for its quality and beauty. 


Miguel Melendez started his career at Spratling's workshop, Las Delicias, as an apprentice under Antonio Castillo. He worked there for only a couple years before following the Castillos to their new enterprise in 1940. While at Los Castillo he helped develop some of the techniques for Margot's early enamel work, and when she opened her new shop he followed her there. He never had his own workshop but he did design and make his own jewelry from time to time. His designs were primarily taken from nature and pre-Hispanic designs. Most of his work that is seen on the market is a blend of pre-Hispanic motifs with mid-century modern, and the quality is always very good.

This information is taken from Mexican Silver, Modern Hand-wrought Jewelry and Metalwork by Penny Morrill and Carole Berk.


Antonio Pineda  (1919-2009) was born in Taxco, where his family had lived for generations. His artistry will go down in history as one of the very best from Mexico's metalsmiths.  His warm and unforgettable personality and his brilliance live on through the beautiful pieces he created.  

Though his earliest work includes natural subjects and traditional early Mexican designs, his later work, beginning in the 1950s, is done in a highly modernist tradition with great ingenuity and quality. His work is some of the most desirable of all that was done in Taxco during his lifetime. 

See Interview with Antonio Pineda by Patrick Kapty, MODERN SILVER magazine, 2000 and Antonio Pineda, an Interview from Taxco, by Gabrielle Stodd, MODERN SILVER magazine, 2005.


William Spratling (1900-1967) has been called "a Renaissance Man" and throughout Mexico he is acknowledged as "The Father of Mexican Silver." Certainly, the town of Taxco and its economy would be vastly different without the initiative and creativity of this man. He complemented its valuable historic past with a new vitality and spirit which recognized the importance of the indigenous culture. The artistic and economic foundation he established continues to flourish today."  (This is taken from a biography of William Spratling by Phyllis Goddard.  Please see the whole biography at

See Maestros de Plata, William Spratling and Mexico's Silver Renaissance by Patrick Kapty, MODERN SILVER magazine, 2002, and William Spratling Hallmarks, A More Detailed Look At His Early Hallmarks by Phyllis Goddard, MODERN SILVER magazine, 2003.


Sigi Pineda, (b. 1929) developed his own style in the early 1950's, approaching a more international flavor to his work than his contemporaries and predecessors who were exploring symbolic Mexican themes. Sigi's version of organic modernism was inspirational in developing and establishing a new design sensibility in Taxco, Mexican modernism, adding to the established Mexican art vocabulary. 

This is taken from
Interview with Sigi Pineda  by Sheila Pamfiloff and Javier (Javi) Oliveres, MODERN SILVER magazine, 2000.



Victoria was the name of the silver shop of Ana Maria Nunez de Brilanti, founded in 1940. She worked in silver, copper, and mixed metals. Her designs are distinctive and beautifully created.  She designed a necklace for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who admired the piece so much that she had Ana copy it for her friends.


Salvador Vaca Teran was an outstanding silver designer and technician.  He began in the 1930s working as a zorrita at Las Delicias with William Spratling.  In 1939, he joined Los Castillo where his jewelry was sold under that Los Castillo mark for many years.  In 1952, he established his own workshop with twenty-five silversmiths in Mexico City.  His work is unique in its use of overlapping planes. He is also known for combining metal with stone mosaics that were made into trays, pitchers, etc.


Links to All About Cufflinks:

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V

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Article by Patrick Kapty, “Patrick Kapty California Dreamin Retro Modern” [760] 671-4879  & Marbeth Schon,

Photographs courtesy of  Patrick Kapty, Marbeth Schon, Kathleen Jenkins, and Ed Bond

Web Design by Marbeth Schon

Your comments are invited. 

© copyright MODERN SILVER magazine, 2013