Black & Blue Jewelry
Black & Blue Jewelry

Mexican Bikers

Email sent: Nov 8, 2019 11:30 am

Is this your brand on Milled? You can claim it.


Biker rings...


Feels cool just typing it.


In the beginning, in the 40's, motorcycles were an inexpensive form of transport.  In 1947 a motorcycle rally in California got out of hand due to drinking, over-crowding, and stunt riding (sounds about right).  By 1951 it had become a popular short story and by 1953 the movie The Wild One, staring Marlon Brando, had solidified the image of a "biker" into culture.


Still looking extra cool 70 years later, the iconic looks of bikers over that span has not subsided.  The 50's, 60's, and 70's produced variants in uniforms that somehow, along the way came to include rings.


While not prominent in early images of bikers in the 50's, rings did start to appear before the 60's.


One theory is that bikers, while often part of clubs, would get into fights with other bikers from other clubs. 


Brass knuckles were a popular weapon for a very long time and bikers, like others, carried them.  (Its rumored that early presidential body guards were often given brass knuckles as standard issue.) less lethal than a gun or knife, brass knuckles elevated the common punch to something more menacing.


When brass knuckles were outlawed in the mid 20th century it may have started a substitution of big heavy rings.  


California bikers starting making their way down to Mexican boarder towns in the 50's.  It was a good place to evade the law, not worry about laws, and its always warm which is good for motorcycle riding.


Looking at biker style evolution from the 50's to the 60's there is an influence that is clearly Californian in origin.  And, obviously, California is greatly influenced through history by Mexican culture.


The Mexican revolution had devalued the currency and craftsman were melting down pesos to use the silver for jewelry. Culturally, Mexico has a great heritage of working gold and silver that dates back to the Aztecs.


The prolific jewelry making, combined with the frequent visits by California bikers came together to create a trend in jewelry; specifically rings.   


These early, almost folk-art rings were big and heavy mostly because the jewelry skill was rudimentary and the silver plentiful.   Mexican craftsman used motifs that were meaningful to the Mexicans like images of native Aztec warriors, horses and skulls.


The Skull, for example, has a meaningful history for Mexicans that begins with the Aztecs, and became pronounced in 1910 (thanks to the artist Posada mentioned in our previous newsletter) as a symbol for national pride.


But, to bikers coming across the boarder the skull wasn't a historic symbol of national pride.  It was a symbol for being dangerous.  Plus the rings were heavy and big...  They made a decent substitute for brass knuckles.  


Obvious design inspiration here at Black&Blue, the format became template for a collection of one of kind rings we made.  


Our interest in rudimentary, early biker rings was nascent knowledge until years later when we had the honor of working with our friend Waris on some of the jewelry for the Wes Anderson film: Grand Budapest Hotel.


It was very cool fitting Willem at his home and to be part of something personally admired, artistically.


Until next time...


ALLEYE hamsa medal


FOCUS hamsa medal




We would obviously be remiss if we didn't shamelessly plug our own pieces... 


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