Among the many cancellations of 2020 was my planned trip to England, scheduled for this past June, with my husband, Andy, and a bunch of friends. We were going to attend the Cubs vs. Cardinals game in London and stay for a few extra days to see the sites. It was meant to be our first trip without kids since Sloane was born, and I was really looking forward to it. But alas, it didn’t happen, for obvious reasons. Like so many other plans for 2020, we just have to hope we’ll get the chance to take this trip another time.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that one my favorite souvenirs to bring home from every trip is jewelry made by local artists or procured at unique local shops. Not only does it take up very little room in your suitcase, but it also seems to capture the spirit of the place and provides a tangible memory of your experiences. I appreciate the uniqueness of my travel jewelry. I never encounter other people wearing the same pieces, unlike my jewelry from big-name American brands.
Here is some of my favorite jewelry that I’ve collected while traveling:
I purchased this sterling silver and blue enamel ring on the Greek island of Mykonos. My parents generously took me to Greece to celebrate my high school graduation. It was heaven on earth. The views of the bright blue sea against the stark white buildings carved into the mountainsides were breathtaking. We ate fresh fish at seaside tables, toured ancient ruins on deserted islands, and aimlessly wandered the winding cobblestone streets of island towns. This ring came from a tiny, cavernous silver shop run by an affable proprietor. Even my dad, who never wears jewelry, bought a silver bracelet for himself because the shopkeeper was so compelling. I love how this ring reflects the coolness of ocean suds against the hot white stucco. I can conjure the mood of Mykonos just by looking at it.
This colorful and organic magenta necklace came from a festive jewelry boutique in Buenos Aires that was bursting with color (I remember all the merchandise being arranged by hue). When I think of Argentina, I think of delicious food, evocative tango music filling the streets, and passionate, warm people. In my eyes, this necklace captures that zest for life and the vibrancy of the city.
This sweet little ring features a Scottie dog, although admittedly from the right angle it can look like the Batman logo. After I took the bar exam, Andy and I went to Paris for a week before meeting up with my law school girlfriends in Spain. I bought this ring at my favorite Parisian department store, Printemps. I love dogs to begin with, and what says “France” more than a tiny, fussy, sparkly dog? I imagine that Sloane, who is showing signs of being a fellow dog lover, will enjoy wearing this one day.
During my junior year of college, I spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia. It was a transformative experience for me. I returned from Melbourne a more confident, outgoing, self-reliant person, with a wholly different outlook on life. One of my favorite places to explore in the city was the Queen Victoria market. It is an expansive, permanent establishment with hundreds of vendors selling antiques, clothing, jewelry, and exquisite fresh food. I visited multiple times per week for all my needs. I purchased this unusual pendant necklace there, which is woven from kangaroo leather. Believe it or not, kangaroos are considered pests in Australia and are culled for their meat and skins (which is to say, I didn’t feel too bad supporting the trade!). Though I rarely wear this necklace now, it is remarkable to think it came from the other side of the world.
Lest you think I travel exclusively internationally (ha), I also enjoy making my way through the good ol’ U.S. of A. I purchased this turquoise and sterling silver ring a few years ago during a women’s weekend in Texas with my aunts, cousins, and mom in the B.C.–before children–era. The purpose of the trip was two-fold: to visit my cousin Andrea, who had recently relocated to Texas, and to check out the epic Round Top antiques fair. If you’re not familiar, this is a giant outdoor antiques and crafts show–a true vintage-lovers’ mecca–held annually in the countryside not too far from Austin. Since I couldn’t realistically transport home any antique furniture, I settled for this beautiful ring, a reminder of the western flair that permeates Texas.
I haven’t even mentioned yet the treasure trove of jewelry my parents have gifted me from their many adventures abroad. Some of my favorite pieces include: a carved silver pendant from Morocco; a trio of beaded bangles made by members of the Maasai tribe in Tanzania; and a pair of carved floral cameo earrings from Lake Como, Italy:
Even though it feels impossibly far off, the day will come in the not-so-distant future when we can travel again. Until then, I’ll just have to live in my memories about all the wonderful places I’ve been so far!
Finally, just for fun, here are some silly photos of me in London from 1997: