Elizabeth Mendoza Estrada,
Amber can be found in several areas of Chiapas but Simojovel is the capital of amber. Chiapaneco amber is one of the finest in the world and Chiapas amber comes in several shades from pale to dark yellow and red. Amber can also have a green shade although the green is really yellow or brown amber over red. Some amber pieces have imprisoned moss and insects in them.
María Elizabeth Mendoza Estrada and Jorge Gabriel Hidalgo Velasco make beautiful silver and amber jewelry in Simojovel, Chiapas. María was born in Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas.
María Elizabeth had to go to work at an early age giving tours to tourists in the amber mines. She was fascinated by amber. A foreign tourist asked her why she did not learn how to work the amber and she responded that it was because she did not have any money to buy amber to learn how to. The tourist gave her a handful of raw stones and from there started her career.
She learned how to work the amber in the traditional way, before all the modern tools were available. She learned how to cut it with a little saw and polish the amber with a type of ashes from oak trees and a type of local cork. Later on, she received valuable advice from another artist who told her not to sell the best pieces she acquired, but rather to guard them. This was the start of her collection.
One day a Canadian client came looking for amber pieces that contained flora and bought some small pieces. María decided to show her one of her extraordinarily rare pieces from her newly started collection that contained a complete plant from stem to flower. The woman felt she had to have it but María Isabel was reticent to sell it. After several days of pressing María Isabel to sell the piece, the woman put a large amount of money on the table saying that it was all the money she had brought with her to Chiapas. María Isabel relented and sold the piece for a total amount of $9,000 pesos, enough to buy the house of her dreams. As she quietly says, "amber has been good to me."
Nowadays, she uses all the modern tools available and Jorge Gabriel, her husband, makes beautiful settings in silver for her amber work.
She married Jorge Gabriel Hidalgo Velazco who is also from Simojovel. Over 18 years ago the government organized an exchange between artisans from Taxco and Simojovel and Gabriel studied silver crafting under Maestro Bruno from Taxco. He learned all the basics and started experimenting with his own designs.
Av. Constitución #4
Col Centro, San Cristóbel de las Casas, Chiapas
Cell 961 279 9905