of the Mercado Area

Jewelry is not a high-profile item in most mercado environments, but a few words should be said about items of coral negro, or "black coral," sold in tourist areas. Though much of Mexico's "black coral" is discovered to be other than the real black coral threatened with being harvested to the point of extinction, it can be said that removal of any coral from a reef destroys critical ocean environments; just don't buy it.

The same is to be said of items made of sea-turtle shell. Some turtles being used in jewelry making are facing extinction. It is hard for the non-expert to know whether the shell being bought is from an endangered species or a more common one. One wonders at the desirability of possessing any ornament fashioned from dead turtles.

Silver articles are less controversial. Don't overlook the excellent introduction to silver-buying in Mexico presented by Sr. Andrés Rodríguez Pérez in our "suppliers" section. By the way, the ancient Aztecs called gold jewelry teocuítatl, and silver jewelry ixtacteocuítatl, which meant "divine excrement" and "white divine excrement," respectively.

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