One of Taxco’s great jewelry designers, Héctor Aguilar, was born in 1905. He began working for William Spratling as a shop manager at Taller de Las Delicias in Taxco, Mexico in 1935.
Unlike many of his peers, he chose to work with nearly pure silver (980 or 990 millesimal fineness, compared to the more common 925 sterling silver alloys typically used). Aguilar found inspiration in Aztec and Mixtec art and architecture and his work quickly became very popular.
In 1939, with the financial aid of Valentin Vidaurrreta, Aguilar opened his own signature workshop (with encouragement from his former employer). Not long after starting his business, metal shortages in the United States during World War II prompted Aguilar to make a deal with the American costume jewelry company Coro. His artisans provided pieces to Coro until 1950.
Aguilar opened Taller Borda in 1948, offering a wide line of products including sterling silver jewelry, hollowware, dinnerware, décor, and novelties.
Despite great success, during the early 1960’s, the workers of Taller Borda intended to unionize and strike. Aguilar preempted this move by transferring all of his properties, claiming bankruptcy, and closing the doors of the workshop on the morning of Christmas Eve. Many workers, some of whom had been with Aguilar for decades, received little or no compensation for their years of loyalty and effort. Nonetheless, his designs and the work of his apprentices remained popular for many years. Héctor Aguilar died in 1986.
Bio: Avila Sterling website
Photo: Juan Guzmán of Héctor Aguilar, Antonio Pineda, William Spratling, and Antonio Castillo, c. 1955. Collection of the Latin American Library, Tulane University.