Jewelry Cancun Mayan Riviera


Hola Bling Bling Lovers! Traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula you will find a number of stores offering exquisitely crafted jewelry not to mention private artisans who sell their wares wherever they can set up a table.

Pre-Hispanic iconography attests to a profusion of intricately carved jewelry and other fineries worn by Mayan dignitaries. Time has done nothing to alter the Mayan love of jewelry and only the styles have changed.

Original designs and replicas are made with precious and semiprecious stones such as Carnelian, Agate, Jade, Peridot, Lapizlazuli, Quartz, Onyx and Obsidian.

Gold, Silver and pewter is in abundance and there is always a jeweler in attendance that can make slight modifications to a piece in certain situations in order to personalize an item for you.


There are lots of jewelry stores in Cancun [in the malls], Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Merida. Cozumel has quite a lot of jewelry stores in relation to other kinds of stores. This is because of the cruise ships landing there and those travelers from the ships do not have to pay taxes.

Most all-inclusive hotels/resorts have a jewelry store as well and usually some people will also have booths or arts and crafts stores selling jewelry.

Some stores specialize in a particular mineral like Amber of Jade and will have an extensive collection of assorted pieces made from different qualities of stones.


Generally, the price of any gemstone is determined by size, cut, quality (color/clarity/treatments), and type.

There are a number of jewelry stores that will sell gems alone or set in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and all along the Mayan Riviera.

There are many ways that dealers can treat gemstones. The savvy buyer asks lots of questions.

Here are some treatments to look for:
It is common to irradiate Aquamarine, London Blue Topaz, Emerald, and Diamond as well as other stones. This treatment brings out color and removes imperfections. Most dealers know if the stones they are selling have been irradiated. Honest ones will tell you if they are aware of the treatment.

Heat Treatments
Amethyst, Aquamarine, Ruby, Tanzanite and Topaz are often heated at high temperatures to enhance color.

This is the most common treatment used to enhance a stone’s appearance. On clear stones, dye may be visible in cracks that are darker than the rest of the stone. Sometimes dye appears as a residue that rubs off or white patches. Lapis and Rose Quartz are commonly dyed. Amethyst and Citrine are often dyed. Black Onyx is permanently dyed in normal processing.

Jasper is often dipped in petroleum products to bring out color and to seal it. Emerald is oiled; turquoise is waxed.

Here are some things to know about gem quality:

  • Has the gem been treated?
  • Is the stone natural or synthetic?
  • Are there any noticeable scratches, holes, chips or inclusions?
  • Is the color saturation even throughout the stone?
  • How good is the color?


Amber generally ranges from yellow to orange. Some amber has been found with red, green, blue, violet, and black hues. Amber often has inclusions such as air bubbles, insects or plant material.

Amber has a hardness rating of 2.5. As amber is soft, it can be easily scratched.

Amber has been imitated by plastic, glass, synthetic resin and other natural resins. It is often heated in oil to remove cloudiness.

Green amber is often heated-treated yellow amber.

You can tell fake amber because if you put a flame under real amber it will not burn or melt as plastic fake stuff does. If a wandering vendor shows you a piece of amber with a scorpion in it then it is 100% fake because these pieces of amber are EXTREEMLY rare and some guy wandering the streets or beaches is not going to be carrying a piece of amber like that. Best to buy amber from a store unless you can tell the difference.

There are numerous stores selling quality amber jewelry and amber things in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel.


In Mexico, the minimum legal standard of karatage is 8k.
Gold in its pure form [24k] is too soft to withstand abrasions caused from extensive daily wear, so it is alloyed with other metals to give it strength. Common gold alloys are silver, copper, nickel, and zinc.
Gold color is determined by the percentage of alloys that are included in the metal. When gold is alloyed with silver, copper, and zinc, the shade of color will vary. When gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc, it becomes white gold. Yellow gold and white gold have very similar strength and malleability. White gold looks very similar to platinum, but the two have very different properties and prices.
The purity of gold is measured in karats, which are expressed in 24ths. Thus, 24-karat gold is pure while 12-karat gold is 50 percent gold and 50 percent alloy.
The price of gold jewelry is dependent upon

  • the purity of the gold used or karat weight
  • design and construction of the piece of jewelry
  • location of vendor.

When the karat weight or the gold percentage of the jewelry is high, the yellow color of gold is brighter, raising the value of the jewelry.
Pure 24k gold is soft and easily bent; 14k gold is mixed with other metals for strength, but this dulls its color. For beauty and durability, be sure to choose 18k gold.
24 karat = Pure gold
Too soft for jewelry
22 karat = 91.7% gold
Very soft – not recommended for jewelry
18 karat = 75.0% gold
Recommended for fine jewelry
14 karat = 58.3% gold
Acceptable for jewelry
12 karat = 50.0% gold
Not acceptable for jewelry
10 karat = 41.7% gold
The legal karat limit considered as real gold in the USA
Most of the jewelry stores that sell gold in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel also sell silver and other precious metals. If you like a particular store or jeweler ask them if they can help you acquire what you are interested in if you do not readily see it.


The words silver or sterling silver describe a product that contains 92.5% silver.

Silver products sometimes may be marked 925, which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. Some jewelry may be described as silverplated: a layer of silver is bonded to a base metal.

Vermeil (ver-may), a special type of gold plated product, consists of a base of sterling silver that is coated or plated with gold.
Not only is silver used for jewelry but for a multitude of other crafts as well.


If you are unsure as to whether something is a diamond or a diamond look-a-like, then ask the jeweler to bring out the diamond tester. Just by touching the stone the tester will signal the difference. If they have no tester, use discretion.

There is a huge price gap between real diamonds and white sapphires or cubic zircons.

Blue topaz or aquamarine can pass for colored diamonds. Make sure to ask if it is a real colored diamond.
Precious stones like sapphires can be created synthetically. A natural sapphire means it has not been treated to enhance the color or cover flaws.
Treated gemstones can be genuine, but not natural. If it is not natural, then it should be less expensive.


When buying a gold necklace or bracelet, make sure you examine the clasp to see if it is strong enough to support the chain, especially if the piece does not have a hallmark.

Look for quality construction. Inspect it carefully. The backs of pins and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece with no soldering marks visible. With gold chain, lay it flat and make sure the links don’t kink or bend.

Pricing is based on these factors: karatage, gram weight, design and craftsmanship. The karatage and gram weight tells you how much gold is in a piece, but other crucial factors determining price are the piece’s construction and design. A price based solely on gram weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. The location of the seller can also play a factor in some situations.

Some dealers will try passing off fake stones instead of natural ones. There are fake stones for most gemstones on the market. Always ask what stone something is if you are not certain. Honest dealers will tell you. If a stone looks too perfect it may be fake, irradiated or dyed.

For more info on Arts & Crafts, Jewelry
and advice on buying items, please see:

Mayan Arts & Crafts
Shopping Tips