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History behind the

Compostelan silversmithing

Silversmiths and jet carvers

The secular legacy of Santiago de Compostela

In the 9th century, Santiago de Compostela became an important religious center after the relics of James the Apostle were found.

Jet carvers and silversmiths played a fundamental role in developing the city, creating pieces for pilgrims and the Cathedral.

Discover the fascinating story of two crucial artforms in Galician silversmithing.

The guilds of San Eloy and San Sebastián

A quick overview of the trades of silversmith and jet carver across the city’s history

From the moment it was born in the Middle Ages, the trade grew in importance during the Modern and subsequently slowed down. More than a thousand years of history and tradition that are still alive.

Discover the trades that have shaped the city’s heart and soul.

Silversmithing and jet carving: sumptuary arts

Precious metals and quality standards that defined a thousand-year-old tradition.

Historically, silversmithing was considered even more valuable than works of art.

The authenticity of the silver or gold was guaranteed through specific marks and quality controls. Since jet was not a precious stone, there were fewer controls (although the material had to be authentic and of good quality).

Discover the legacy of silver and jet work in Compostela, two elements that continue to dazzle in everyday life.

Workshop training to become a master

Trade and skills passed on from one Compostelan silversmith to the next

The guild system shaped silversmiths and jet carvers. Workshops were learning places, with masters, officials, and apprentices.

Endogamy was common, with family dynasties shaping history.

Apprentices paid for their training and, once this was complete, they took a test to join the guild and open their shops.

Learn more about these sagas, some of which are still present.

Ancestral tools and techniques

Exploring the secrets of ancient arts

In the workshop of jet carvers and silversmiths, creativity and tradition intertwine. Ancestral tools like anvils, chisels, and hammers shape precious metals, while filigree and engraving weave stories in each piece.

Every job is important: from wooden benches to jet work, religious relics to gift trays.

Explore the different techniques that have stood the test of time and given rise to invaluable treasures.

The first souvenirs in history.

Jet and silver as a token of your pilgrimage to Santiago

Do you know that picking jet and silver work as a souvenir of your pilgrimage is a way to keep a centuries-old tradition? During the Middle Ages, the first pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela took with them scallop shells as a symbol of their spiritual trip.

Over time, these shells became a symbol of the pilgrimage and true artworks made out of jet and silver.

Discover how the past and the present are linked via this tradition.