Jewelry shopping

I have loved to shop for jewelry most everywhere I’ve traveled!

• I bought a wide, choker-type necklace made of camel bones in the medina in Tunis, Tunisia.

• I’ve bought amber in many countries of the world, including Hong Kong, England, Denmark, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. The amber in the Dominican Republic is more yellow than the orangey kind obtained elsewhere. The way to tell if it is real amber and not plastic is to rub the piece against a piece of wool (to create static electricity), then see if it will pick up a tiny piece of Kleenex.

• In December ’04 I was in Panama and Trinidad, and in Panama City I bought some excellent gold-plated replicas of ancient Greek and Colombian jewelry at a nice, small shop in a big central shopping mall (first level). I also bought a lovely bracelet with large flat coral pieces set in silver in a shop in Trinidad. Also in Trinidad, I bought a silver bracelet and earrings that matched, set with beautiful flat pieces of opal. I have not seen this type anywhere else.

• I seldom pay above a couple of hundred dollars for a piece of jewelry, sometimes much less. In Morocco in May ’05, I bought from a “traveling salesman,” who happened by a coffee place where I was sitting outdoors, a lovely “silver” bracelet which had raised carved camels and “hands of Fatima” on it. Later I realized it was not silver but some other kind of metal. It cost me about $15. The advantage of its not being silver is it doesn’t get very tarnished.

• In Hong Kong I bought a beautiful Bucellati “knockoff” ring, beautifully set with diamonds in 18k gold, for just over $1,000. In Italy, this or a similar ring would have cost thousands of dollars more, I am sure.

• In Thailand, which is good for rings and other items set with sapphires and rubies, it is important to have the settings checked when you return to the U.S., as stones from there often are not set too tightly.

• In South Africa, women selling lovely beaded necklaces and bracelets hover around the outside of the railroad station in Johannesburg and other places. These pieces are extremely cheap and really wonderful and colorful.

• I know many Americans don’t like bargaining and pay the first-asked price, but with experience, and patience, and a big smile, and a friendly attitude, one can get many real bargains. I have found the shopkeepers expect it and feel they respect you more if you DO bargain, in a friendly way.

Do not be mean and unrealistic. Compare prices with other travelers, if you can. When the people are extremely poor, I usually do not try to bargain much. (In the USA I even sometimes ask for the “best price” and have received discounts this way.)

• I had good luck buying abalone-shell jewelry in New Zealand — blue and shimmery and very beautiful! It is made into pins, earrings, necklaces and other things too.

• I bought a “poison ring” in Israel; I believe it was made in Indonesia. Silver, and with an interesting design, it opens up so one could put poison inside, I guess. I put in a tiny piece of cotton saturated in perfume, instead.

Scottsdale, AZ