I have confessed this in a previous post…and I will reiterate here…I am a bonafide jewelry junkie…but not of the little blue box variety. I am also an intrepid traveler and, through the years, I have acquired a few wearable keepsakes to elicit fond memories of those journeys.

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I have been fortunate to travel to Thailand, not once, but twice, to study Thai Massage. I spent most of my time in Chiang Mai, a very bohemian city in the northern, mountainous part of the country. The piece pictured on the left is an antique spirit lock I purchased in a boutique called Sipsong Panna. It is an splendid example of Hill Tribes silver. The Hill Tribes are a collection of nomadic tribes living in the areas surrounding Chiang Mai. Silver jewelry is handmade by the Karen tribe using traditional methods passed down through generations. A spirit lock is a popular motif; it is traditionally worn around the neck to lock the soul (which, in Hill Tribes cosmology, tends to wander) of the wearer into his or her body to maintain physical and spiritual health. When I wear this piece, I tend to feel the same serenity I experienced in my visits to the many Buddhist temples in this beautiful, exotic country.

These earrings were acquired on a trip to Bali, the Island of the Gods. This land is unlike any other. Citizens of Bali treat everyday as if it is a celebration. Their architecture is orate, even on the most humble of buildings; their rice paddies are among the most beautiful in the world; their traditional dances are performed daily; and their fragrant frangipani are blooming everywhere! They are also skilled craftspeople – I purchased these gorgeous filigree earrings in a little village called Celuk. All of this exquisite detail is crafted by hand – just amazing! When I wear them, I feel beautiful…just like hands that created them and the land that inspired them!

The necklace on the right was purchased, not in Southeast Asia, but right here in the United States. In 2010, I was able to go to New Orleans for Jazzfest. On my first day there, I was amazed to see jazz musicians playing on street corners, along with locals & visitors dancing right on Royal Street! I immediately fell in love with the vibrancy of the French Quarter, the beauty of the Garden District, and the onslaught to my senses that is Jazzfest. Five years after Katrina, the city was still rebuilding, but the spirit that is NOLA was strong. I purchase this strand of freshwater pearls from a local artisan at Jazzfest. I love the exclusive fleur de lis design – a symbol, originally of Paris, and now of NOLA. When I wear this necklace, I am reminded of the resilient and dynamic residents of this unique city.

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These delicate silver wire earrings were purchased on a recent trip to Savannah. I happened to stumble upon an art fair shortly after my arrival. I loved everything about Savannah – the charming antebellum architecture, the yummy cuisine, and the artistic spirit. The main college in town is SCAD – Savannah College of Art & Design – and galleries and artist co-ops abound. I often adorn myself with these wearable pieces of local art.

In contrast to the quaintness of Savannah, Atlanta is a thriving metropolis. I just visited this city in September for a music festival. One day I decided to ride the metro and see where it would take me. I ended up in a lovely little town 6 miles east of Atlanta called Decatur. Every cafe, pub, and boutique in the main square is independently owned – so refreshing! I stumbled into a shop that only sells locally made art and crafts and I immediately fell in love with this simple burgundy pendant. It is a copper disc that was stamped with an Eastern pattern (think henna tattoo) and oxidized to this rich color. Such a great piece!

One of my favorite places to visit is Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. I have been there several times, and I am not sure which enchants me more – the bright shining Mexican sun or the sparkling turquoise of the Caribbean Sea. The bottom necklace, purchased on my second trip to PDC, is reminiscent of its vibrancy. The rich Mexican amber perfectly complements the bright turquoise beads and rich brown leather. Muy colorido!

Thank you for indulging me in my trip down memory lane. I hope this post has been an inspiration to get off the beaten path of t-shirts and snow globes when shopping for the perfect memento of your next trip.

I am going to conclude this raid of my jewelry box tomorrow with other treasure that have sentimental value for other reasons…

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