As I have mentioned before (though hopefully not ad nauseum… yet), shopping for unique jewelry is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. Realistically, when you get home, are you ever going to wear that dress that you bought for $3 in a Cambodian market, even if it was your go-to look across much of Southeast Asia? Or that edgy leather jacket that you spent a small fortune on in London that you just had to have even when it was too small and not really your style (a shout out to my sister)? Jewelry is perfect. Small enough that it doesn’t take up room in your suitcase, it is the kind of investment that you just might hold on to forever and pass down to someone that shares similar genetics (who you can wow with your stories of world travel and Y2K). You are never going to gain or lose too much weight to wear a pair of earrings, and you never know when that wild necklace you bargained for on the streets of Bhaktapur is going to be the perfect statement piece for that little black dress.
While living in Nepal, I accumulated several such necklaces as personal souvenirs and gifts. The cost of purchasing small trinkets from local vendors is relatively low, and purchasing crafts can have a huge impact on low-income households that depend on such fickle business for survival. With those things in mind, I went through several periods where I was incessantly purchasing small crafts to bring home, such as necklaces and scarves, as it always gives me great pleasure to bring home gifts if my wallet and–possibly more importantly–my suitcase can afford them. Multi-strand beaded necklaces are traditionally worn by married women in Nepal (though such customs vary amongst the several different ethnic groups in the country). This is a different take on the beaded necklace– one that probably exists more as an appeal to foreign travelers than as something commonly worn by Nepalese women– with a large pendant inlaid with turquoise as the main attraction. It is bold, and though probably not suitable for most outfits, it is the perfect statement piece. Most importantly, though, it reminds me of a people and place that will forever remain close to my heart, cheesy as that statement may be.