The Thirteenth Annual Amber Exposition is open here in San Cristobal de las Casas. The Amber Expo is being held at the Casa Mazariegos Convention Center until the 9th of August. The expo hall is essentially the center of an old colonial building that has been nicely restored and has had the courtyard covered with a permanent roof. The amber expo is not huge, but has about 5 or 6 aisles with 12 or so vendors on each one.
Amber is basically just tree resin that has hardened over thousands of years into a rock like substance. Copal incense is actually young amber before all of the resins and oils have dried out of it. I have always considered amber quite beautiful, but after enough time here in San Cristobal it loses some of its charm. Even when the expo isn’t here, there are tons of places to buy amber, from high end boutique jewelry stores to hippies in the park and everything in between.
Inside the expo the prices seemed about in line with prices at the park, once a bit of bargaining is done. A nice, but simple, amber bracelet with marble sized pieces of amber surrounding it
cost about 200 pesos, or $15.00.
I was disappointed a bit at the expo because it was very hard to see any significant difference from one booth to the other.
There was also not much in the way of fine jewelry there, most of the workmanship was quite rustic. I wasn’t in the market to buy expensive amber, but if I had been, I would not have been happy with the selection.
The good news is that if you are in the market to buy amber, San Cristobal de las Casas is THE place to do it. There are canyons in the mountains between here and Palenque where a lot of the amber in this region comes from. Some day I will find someone who knows exactly where they are and I will search for it myself, until then the jewelry sellers at the park in front of Santo Domingo church are where I would direct anyone looking for a deal on nice amber jewelry to go.