Cancun, Q.R. – Imported cheap silver products from China are having an effect on local jewelers around the state of Quintana Roo.
Oscar Delgado, president of the National Chamber of the Industry of Jewellery and Silver says there are only about 250 surviving authentic silver jewelry businesses left in the state, all of which are threatened by the cheaper prices of China imports.
The imported goods are selling for half the price of what local silversmiths charge, pricing them out of the market.
“We cannot compete with the prices since the tourists who are arriving are becoming of less purchasing power and no longer look for something good, but the most economic,” Delgado explained.
Before, local silversmiths had to compete with the sale of alpaca, a product that more often than not caught the eye of tourists due to its shiny features and cheap price. The product was one of the causes for 25 percent of the state’s silver jewellery shops to close since 2013, says the National Chamber of Jewellery and Silver.
Alpacca silver is an alloy that imitates sterling silver. The bright silvery-grey metal alloy consists of copper, zinc and nickel and sometimes even iron. Alpacca silver does not contain real silver, but instead, is another name of nickel silver. In Mexico, Central and South America, it is referred to as Alpaca Silver.
The only true silver shops left in the state are in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Mahahual. To determine if jewelry is made of real silver, consumers can look for a 925 stamp often inside rings or on the underside of jewelry pieces. The number 925 means the piece consists of 92.5 percent pure silver with the rest being an alloy, usually copper.
If consumers are still unsure if their piece is pure silver, sterling silver (silver plated) or alpacca, professionals recommend using a magnet. Shiny metals such as platinum, gold and silver are non-ferrous, meaning they are non-magnetic.
Professionals remind consumers “the price that paid for jewelry is a good indicator as to whether it’s real sterling silver or not. 925 silver is much more expensive than alternatives. If the price you’re paying seems too good to be true, then it’s likely that you’re not purchasing real 925 sterling silver jewelry.”