Several Pre-Hispanic societies would sail through rough waters since Pre-Columbian times to the Gulf of Guayaquil in search of the Spondylus shell. These, apparently simple shells, are charged with symbolic powers. Two species of this beautiful red spiny shell thrive under the seas of the Gulf of Guayaquil,Esmeraldas and Isla de la Plata and Salango area. Because of its importance, this shell made its way not only throughout the coast, but also from the jungle to the Andes and even Central America. Some archeologists believe it was also used as a form of monetary exchange or ancient coin. Today one can admire samples of these beautiful ancient handicrafts in many museums in Ecuador. Many artisans are still being inspired by the beauty and symbolism of the Spondylus and continue to create necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry. When you wear this fine jewelry you can still feel the sense of mystery and sensuality it held in for the ancient dwellers of the northern coast of South America.
Authentic Panama hats, like the ones sold in our store, originate from Ecuador and must be sealed on the inside brim stating its origin. Although Panama Hats come from Ecuador they get their name from the movement of gold seekers in the 1800’s travelling north to California. Workers of the famous Panama Canal also used the hats during its construction. Even U.S president Theodore Roosevelt wore a hat in Panama while visiting the construction of the canal, all these events are attributed with the Panama Hat getting its name. It all starts with paja toquilla, which is a tall palm-type plant native to certain regions of Ecuador. The leaves are harvested, dried, and then hand-woven into the hat’s classic shape. Today Panama Hats come in several styles as well as color schemes. The quality of each hat is judged by the amount of weaves per square inch, the more weaves the more luxurious and expensive the hat.
The first generation of Tinta artists started in 1880 with Joaquin Maria Tinta Cardenas in Sangolqui, Ecuador. He started by crafting water fountains and house wares. The next generation, Rafael Humberto Tinta,specialized in religious figures. The third generation began with Joaquin Humberto Tinta. He decided to move away from his family’s traditional silverware works, and as an artist, branched out with the creation of fine jewelry and sculptures of his own design. Joaquin’s life as a silversmith takes a higher artistic calling and the quality of his work is gaining international recognition. We are pleased to add Joaquin Tinta Figueroa’s collection of fine sculptures to our Gallery. Joaquin uses high quality gold, silver, bronze, and iron. The gold is 18 karat and the silver is 950 sterling. He mixes the different metals to perfection on each piece. He adds precious and semiprecious stones, such as malaquite, lapislazuli, jades, granite, amber.