Souvenirs, jewelry, and “wearable memories”

sou·ve·nir [soovuh-neer] noun

1. a usually small and relatively inexpensive article given, kept,or purchased as a reminder of a place visited, an occasion,etc.; memento.
2. a memory

For lots of practical financial reasons, travel is my hobby and primary daydream occupation, not my real job. To remind myself of adventures abroad when I’m slogging through a tough week at work, I wear the jewelry I buy during these adventures. Over the past few years, this practice has netted me some pretty things, some crazy things, and lots of lovely memories. Last week, the marvelously talented EastCoastTKO and I were discussing the merits of buying jewelry on vacation and she inspired me to dig out some of my “wearable memories.”

Morocco (2010)

There are lots of memorable things to buy in Morocco. In Essaouira, there is a large number of silver merchants in the souks, selling countless styles of earrings, rings, necklaces, and more. Some of my friends got some pieces made for them in a few hours. The earrings I bought aren’t fancy, but they remind me of the blue boats of Essaouira.
Essaouira Morocco silver earrings
Essaouira silver souks Morocco Essaouira Morocco blue boats
I also picked up some Moroccan leather cuff bracelets. The story of how I acquired these bracelets is being saved for its own blog post (it’s delightful). The bracelets not only remind me of that experience, but they came into my world during a very fun day in the souks in Marrakech. If you’ve ever purchased leather in Morocco, you’ll know they also still smell like Morocco, which is … its own memory.
Marrakech Morocco leather bracelets souks
Marrakech Morocco souks Marrakech Morocco leather souks

Spain (2011)

Spain was full to the brim with beautiful things. I spent a few days in Cordoba, where I made the requisite visit to the cathedral, the famous Mezquita. It was stunning, strange, and beautiful. The next day, at equally-fascinating (and budget-friendly) Medina Azahara, I found this beautiful leather bracelet, inspired by the red-and-white stone arches of the Mezquita and the ruins of the Medina.

Spain Cordoba Mezquita bracelet
Spain Cordoba Mezquita Spain Cordoba Medina al-Zahara
The same night, while wandering in the newer part of the city, I discovered Uno de 50, a Spanish jewelry store chain. 90% of the store would have gone home with me. I found these simple earrings, which not only reminded me of Cordoba, but specifically of Barcelona’s many Modernisme buildings – not a straight line in sight.
Earrings Spain Silver
Cordoba Spain Barcelona Spain Pedrera

France (2012)

Recent travels in Paris yielded some wonderful additions to my supply of pretty things. I’ve already talked my new favourite thing, a necklace of enamel poppies. I did get to see some poppies in bloom on the Promenade Plantée, but to me, nothing is more quintessentially French than a field of poppies as far as the eye can see. Long before I ever visited France, someone described seeing such a field in incredible detail, and I’ve longed to see it for myself ever since.
Coquelicot poppy necklace
Poppies and other flowers in bloom on the Promenade Plantée Poppies Halifax Public Gardens

While I definitely enjoy nice jewelry, I can’t resist something fun and unexpected. After days of consuming macarons every time I found them, particularly salted caramel ones, I simply couldn’t resist this fun macaron necklace in the boutique at Musée des arts décoratifs. It reminds me of light, tasty macarons, and the countless flavour combinations that haven’t quite made their way across the pond yet.

France Macaron necklace
Sea salt caramel macaron Paris Paris macarons

Good memories = wise expenditures

While I will admit to being a magpie, I am not a foolish or wasteful spender. For example, I found this amazing, authentic vintage Chanel gold cuff in le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
Chanel bracelet

In my heart, I wanted it badly. In my head, I assumed (correctly) it was a budget-buster. Immediate reaction: “If this is €300 or less, I’m going to buy it.” Having spent enough time in the Puces to know that the threshold I set was remotely reasonable, I did not ask the price. That way, I was spared the heartbreak of not being able to afford it and the guilt of buying it and feeling bad about spending that much money on jewelry when I got home. Post-trip research suggests it would have been at least USD$800, and probably more. On the upside, I saved myself the heartbreak of walking away from it.

What are you favourite “wearable memories?” What about the things you left behind? Fire away in the comments!




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