The abundance of minerals and semiprecious stones in Peru have made it possible to develop creative metalwork since pre-hispanic times.The oldest example of goldsmithy in South America dates back to the Chavin culture (1000 B.C.). Later,priceless pieces were found in the areas of Chancay,Paracas and Cusco,as well as superb work done by the Mochica,Chimu and Lambayeque cultures.
In the late 1980s archaeologists discovered the Royal Tombs of the Lord of Sipan corresponding to the Moche culture (600-1200 A.D.). The tomb of the warrior priest featured ceremonial dress and ornaments worked in gold with techniques that were highly advanced for the time. These techniques, used even today by artisans working with jewels, sculptured pieces and utensils, include alloys,smelting with laminated pieces, chiseling, soaking, smelting gold threads, filigree and applications, incrustations and clasps.
The replicas of the beautiful jewels, found in the Tomb of Lord of Sipan are very popular with the public. They can be acquired in the museum in Chiclayo or in Lima at the Gift shope located at 1175 Larco avenue, Miraflores. For more information contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The main silverwork areas are the departments of Junin, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Cuzco.
Silversmiths who have maintained a rich colonial tradition, have developed a wide variety of shapes and motifs, crafting works of art with figures of fowls, peacocks, horses and stars, as well as articles for religious and domestic use.Other important works of silver include wrought silver pinches done in the Cuzco colonial style, the tupu pins to fasten the lliclla shawl, alpaca necklaces worked in black onyx and bamboo, silver necklaces set with obsidian, burnished silver earrings set with opals in several colors done in the colonial style, and silver-edged wooden frames for paintings and mirrors.
Another major technique is silver filigree, where both silver and gold are thinned out to a minimum and worked into extraordinarily beautiful items. One of the main filigree production centers is Catacaos (in the department of Piura), heirs to the tradition of the Vicus culture.
:: GOLD FILIGREE
The goldsmithy technique involves thinning the gold to minimum proportions to thread it together, creating jewels of extraordinary beauty. The town of Catacaos in Piura, heirs to the Vicus culture, is a major production center of the delicate art of filigree.The most commonly produced pieces are dormilonas, a type of earring and necklaces, which often feature the moon motif.
:: SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES
Other materials used in arts and crafts. especially in jewelry, are chosen from a vast variety of semi-precious stones, many of which found in Peru, while others are imported, like in the pre-hispanic era in what is today Colombia and Ecuador. Generally these stones, the most spectacular of which are Peruvian turquoise or crisocola,onyx,obsidian and opal, are used to make necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets. Nor should one forget the use of the traditional red seashell called spondylus, once called "the sacred food of the gods",used to craft superb pieces of jewelry.