4. Shop Like A Local
Once you’ve figured out which stones and styles you’re interested in, make sure you go to non-touristy spots to seal the deal. Hotel concierges can be great resources when it comes to shopping recs, as are individual city guides. Conduct a quick online search on the store before your visit to make sure it’s legit, and if possible, make your purchase through local artisans or galleries. In most cases, they will be more than happy to explain both their stone sourcing and their jewelry-making process, which adds to the buying experience!
5. Don’t Bust Your Budget
While it’s important to choose jewelry you’ll love and that will remind you of your trip for years to come, make sure you don’t exceed what you’re willing to spend. We know, we know: you’re on holiday, and it feels good to splurge. After all, we are talking about precious gems! But you’ll feel better if you set a limit and stick to it. No one wants to grapple with buyer’s regret, especially not while on vacation.
6. Feel Free To Walk Away
Sometimes, despite best planning and research, you can find yourself in a high-pressure sales situation. It’s uncomfortable, and it can also suck the joy right out of the experience. Our advice: feel free to take a pause, walk away, and think things over. If that jewel or trinket is something you’re still obsessing over the next day, you can always return then to make the purchase. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be!
7. Our Favorite Gemstones And Where To Find Them
Now that you’ve got our best tips on how to purchase beautiful jewelry reminders of your journeys, here are a few of our favorite gemstones, and where to find them!
Moldavite: Czech Republic
A favorite reminder of time spent in Prague is simple stud earrings and a solitaire ring featuring one of the Czech Republic’s most famous exports — moldavite. The mossy-colored gemstone is actually naturally-formed glass, created when a meteorite hit Earth millions of years ago. Look for the bubbles inside, reminders of the violent impact that created these gorgeous stones.
Fire Opal: Mexico
This bright, bold, orange-colored stone is a member of the opal family, but it doesn’t display the multi-colored flashes typically seen in its shimmering cousins. Fire opal reminds us of those endless and gorgeous oceanside sunsets in Mexico, where it’s commonly found. When faceted, brilliant fire opals really sparkle and shine, displaying hints of deep russet and scarlet amid their tangerine base shade.
The flashes and shimmers within are what make moonstone so mysterious and sought-after by collectors. Cabochon rainbow moonstone stones, polished and smoothed to show off that shine, are mined in India. You’ll find them in jewelry that often pairs them with other stones that complement their secondary colors, including amethyst, topaz, and turquoise.
Another flashy option, ammolite, resembles a dark opal, displaying a full range of vibrant rainbow colors deep inside. Formed from fossilized, ancient cephalopods, the colorful ammolite is only found in a specific area of the Canadian Rockies, making it the perfect take-home gift from this iconic, rugged region of the world.
You might remember it from the film Jurassic Park, but amber is much more than the carrier of fictional dinosaur DNA. This gem, known for its rich golden, red, or even pale green hue, is actually fossilized tree sap. It’s usually cut and polished in a cabochon style before being placed into jewelry. Fissures, inclusions, and yes — in rare cases — ancient critters suspended in the stone are what makes amber unique and only add to its beauty. It can also emit a smoky, piney smell when heated. Much of the world’s gem-grade amber is found in the Baltics, and if you’re headed to Russia, amber makes a great take-home purchase.