When I turned 16 years old my parents gave me what many in the south call a “purity ring.” But my ring is more than just (what’s become) a stereotypical Christian tradition. This silver ring symbolizes purpose and love. Purpose: committing to living intentionally in everything I do. Love: looking for the betterment of others no matter who they are or what it costs me - my family, friends, workmates, all the way to my enemies. It’s profound that I can be constantly reminded of these grand causes by simply wearing a small accessory. And though I often fail at them, they encompass the core to my identity.
Shortly after this, I realized my true joy in travel and cultural immersion. Most people who travel love to buy souvenirs along the way. These items are often gifts for loved ones or symbols of memories made.
Instead of postcards, coins, or perishable goods, I look for rings. Rings are much more timeless than these typical travel purchases. I enjoy the fact that I can wear my memories. Each ring has its own stories - how it was made, where we first met, and the insane experiences I've had while wearing it. This pile of metal in my hand holds within it wonderful recollections of cultures, people, food, and adventures - from as far as Firenze to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.
If you too are fascinated by rings, here are a couple places you can find them.
- Online Stores like our good friends JoJo Rings here in Charleston who turn keys (from old to new and car keys to house keys) into rings, and they constantly sponsor charitable causes along the way.
- Markets or Physical Stores - No matter where you live or where you travel, most cities have markets daily, weekly, or at the very least monthly. These are great places to find vendors who are typically willing to barter with you on unique rings and other accessories. Most of the cities I have traveled in Europe also have small corner jewelry stores. I’ve interacted with everyone from those who source rings around the world to spectacular craftsmen whose families have been honing ring-making for generations.
Do your research though. The designs and materials. Ask the vendors about their personal story, where the rings are from, and how they’re made.
If you’re anything like me, you have a hell of a time traveling and truly enjoy reflecting on and telling the stories you make along the way. Rings have created a unique way for me to remember these stories, spark conversations, and even develop new friendships. I wear my memories in my head and on my fingers and I’m looking forward to one day passing them down to my future family.
What are your travel souvenirs? Where do you get your rings? Leave a comment below!