On my second day in Cusco, I decided to venture out of the city and visit the surrounding towns and cities around Cusco. One of the places I was able to visit is the famous marketplace of Pisac where they sell and purvey traditional Peruvian products made with local materials to visitors. One of the products sold at this marketplace is jewelry handcrafted by local artisans, and there are a few jewelry shops at this market.
The place where I learned about Peruvian silver is called Luz de Carmen, a jewelry and silversmith shop where their products are made onsite. During my visit, I met a very nice lady who showed us what Peruvian silver are made of.
The metal used for most Peruvian jewelry nowadays is Peruvian silver that contains more silver than your average sterling silver. The average sterling silver contains 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper added to it. Peruvian silver however has a higher silver content of 95% combined with 5% copper for strength and durability, hence each Peruvian silver jewelry will have the markings of .950, making Peruvian silver a bit more valuable because it contains more silver.
At Luz de Carmen, they use various semi-precious stones mined in Peru and South America. The rarest one is a stone called Peruvian serpentine. There are several kinds of serpentine out there, but the Peruvian serpentine is a bit different. Mined only at the Andes, it has a lime-green color with yellow undertones. Legend has it that Incas used to mine them in and around the legendary citadel of Machu Picchu. Other stones used in making of their jewelry are onyx, lapis lazuli, Peruvian turquoise, mother of pearl, opal among others. For the ultimate Peruvian souvenirs, I bought two rings both in Peruvian silver (of course!), one has a lapis lazuli stone on a silver setting shaped like an eye. The other ring has a Peruvian serpentine shaped in the design of Pachamama (mother earth), this second ring is adjustable.
Upon purchasing both rings, I received a certificate of authenticity to ensure original craftmanship and origins in Peru and Luz de Carmen.
Another big purchase I had while in Peru was a bracelet that I found in a shop in Lima a couple of days after, located in the old historic center. It has four round lapis lazuli discs from Chile set in a square Peruvian silver link. It is one of my favorite finds while traveling to Peru. Jewelry is often the best souvenir one could ever buy in their travels. It is small and light and easily fits in your carry-on.