Chordeleg Ecuador, Exclusive Silver Shopping at its Best

Chordeleg

If you love clean, quiet, charming cities, shopping and or jewelry, then you will love Chordeleg.  Most people visit Chordeleg from Cuenca because it is less than an hour away.  The city, nestled in the hills of the Azuay province just like Cuenca, filled with jewelry shops awaits visitors.

Our half-day trip from Cuenca to Chordeleg to do some silver jewelry shopping with our two out-of-town female friends was well worth it. Everyone left with something beautiful and some great buys.

If you haven’t heard of Chordeleg, it’s a city that’s a little over forty-five minutes outside of Cuenca ($2 bus ride) with a population of about 11,000. We had a private driver take us to the small town of Chordeleg.  He takes people to Chordeleg often so he knows some great lunch spots.

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Chordeleg means “gold waterfall.” It is the original Silversmith city of Ecuador. In Ecuador, you’ll still find the adherence of the Spanish Guild system that started centuries ago. Guilds were groups of artisans or merchants that practice their trade in a particular town. Other Guild cities in Ecuador include San Bartolomé for guitars, Gualaceo for textiles/weaving, Otavalo for leather and San Antonio de Ibarra for its wood carving.


 
chordeleg city streets
The city of Chordeleg

Small and Quaint

You will not find crowds in Chordeleg.  The shop keepers will give you their full attention. In at least one shop you can often watch the shop keeper make filagree. You will see a few people checking out the shops, maybe some kids in the park and a few gentlemen discussing life.  It is a city that feels like it has no cares.

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As soon as you enter the city, you can’t help but notice the large filigree earrings hanging from the town light poles. The art of filagree uses fine wires to form delicate pieces of jewlery.  The earrings inform visitors that they entered  an artisian city. There are also a couple of pottery shops and a small museum. Chordeleg with it’s beautiful square in the center surrounded by a church and of course silver shops is a gem.

So how is filigree made? A Chordeleg craftsman feeds silver into a rolling mill, now the sliver fashioned into the shape of a wire ready for use. Thus, by hand, they work the wire until it becomes a thin strand. Then, they twist the silver strand and dust it with silver powder. Eventually, they meld it together with a soldering torch. Utimately priced according to the difficulty of the design and the weight of the silver, Take home a one-of-kind piece of Chordeleg’s handmade filagree and be the envy of your friends.A nice pair of chandelier earring will cost between $20 and $30 USD (USD is the currency of Ecuador).

chordeleg
The many signs of filigree around Chordeleg
museum
A small but interesting museum in downtown Chordeleg
 

Easy to Make Friends

Chordeleg has benches everywhere. I have to admit that after a few stores, I got tired of looking at jewelry and made myself comfortable on a bench while my wife and friends shopped. But I wasn’t bored. I ended up making friends with a dog who hung out with me for an hour.
 
For food, there are a couple restaurants in Chordeleg of which only one was open when we were there. They serve typical Ecuadorian lunches along with coffee and beer.
 
One thing we noticed was that the city was clean. Particularly, no graffiti. One of the shop owners told us that the town is small, and everyone knows everyone. So if they saw a kid spraying graffiti on a wall, they would go out and discipline them. That’s just the way it is in a small town here in Ecuador.
 
handcrafted filigree jewelry
A craftsman at work in Chordeleg and his wares
 
You might wonder how there are so many silver jewelry shops in one place and after visiting a few, will you see anything different if you keep going? Going from shop to shop, Surprisingly, I found uniquely different looking jewelry (until I got tired and searched for a bench).
 
Another thing to keep in mind, jewelers from all over Ecuador come to Chordeleg to buy wholesale. If you’re lucky, at some shops you might witness the filigree artisan work in progress since filigree is the specialty of Chordeleg.  You might question if the jewelry is massed produced somewhere but then you see the artisans in the shops working at making some of the finest silver jewelry around.

Don’t Forget to Barter in Chordeleg

Do not forget to barter, it’s welcomed and expected in Chordeleg. In fact, many shops have signs that say “make offer.” So barter on everything, especially if you buy multiple items and pay with cash. If you’re in the market for silver jewelry, it’s worth the trip to Cordeleg.
 
Here’s a short video that shows the art of Filigree
If you feel like going a little further from Chordeleg on your day drip, check out Ingapirca in Ecuador
 
 

QUICK ANSWERS


What does Chordeleg mean?

Chordeleg means “gold waterfall.” It is the original Silversmith city of Ecuador. In Ecuador, you’ll still find the adherence of the Spanish Guild system that started centuries ago. Guilds were groups of artisans or merchants that practice their trade in a particular town.

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What is the best city to buy silver in Ecuador?

Chordeleg is the best city in Ecuador to buy Silver and Gold. The competition in Chordeleg is great so prices are kept low and you can bargain.

About Tina

As far back as I can remember I was adventurous and wanted to see the world. The first time I traveled outside the country was with Keith just after high school graduation. After that, I was hooked. Throughout my career I was just like many of you, I wanted to work less and travel more. Keith and I made early retirement a reality. Now, I am here to help you retire early and find the inspiration to venture out and see the world.

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16 thoughts on “Chordeleg Ecuador, Exclusive Silver Shopping at its Best”

  1. Keith:
    my husband and I are wandering expats who have enjoyed our visits to Chordeleg and have several jewelry
    pieces I like.

    However I can not find my notes on the jeweler I like. I can visualize the store position right off the city center square. Wondered if you have websites for quality jeweler with a website who can that I can trust to sell and ship me the silver bracelet ( not filigree) I desire. I know Cuenca has two chordeleg shops but no websites I can find. Can you help me?

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