Location: The Albaicin, Granada, Andalusia, Spain; Material: Silver, Lapis Lazuli, Crystal
This ring/necklace set is composed of two of the most unique jewelry pieces I own. Please take a moment to glance at the beautiful, meticulous swirls and shapes on both of the pieces as well as the interesting choker-like look of the necklace. It is composed of silver, a crystal, and lapis lazuli beads (from Chile I was told), and it was made in Spain. I purchased it when I was traveling to Granada and Cordoba, Spain with a group from my university my freshman year. We were only in Spain for one week, and we happened to be getting a tour of the Albaicin (the Muslim section of Granada) on a Sunday, the only day this neighborhood holds an amazing, artisan jewelry market outdoors. This market is set up at a very strategic point in the Albaicin, at an off-the-beaten-path touristy spot with the most breathtaking view of Granada’s famous mosque, Alhambra. We stopped for the view and stayed for the market.
Looking around at the 15+ people selling goods, it was easy to see right away that everything was handmade with love and care. I immediately spotted the above necklace and grew curious about it. I asked to try it on, did so, and debated about getting it. I was 19 at the time of this purchase, and it was before I really got into buying quality, handmade jewelry, so when the artist told me that the necklace cost 30 euro ($40-45), I was very hesitant. Even knowing that the necklace took over a day to make, was very good quality, supported a local designer, was composed of real silver and semiprecious stones, and was truly a piece of art, I did not understand back then why a necklace would cost so much. The man saw that I was hesitant; so, in an attempt to bargain with me, said he would make a ring to match the necklace with some scrap silver he had and an extra lapis lazuli bead he had someone in his art supplies bags. Although still being apprehensive, I decided to buy the two pieces. He immediately delivered on his promise to make a ring for me. He pulled out a long string of silver, strung a shiny, navy blue bead with specks of gold, and used a pliers-like tool to shape it into the ring you see above. This took only a few minutes. It was really cool to see the process of making a quick piece of jewelry!
As a 23-year old, I now understand: this is how these people make a living. After seeing the prices certain retail stores charge for cheap, tacky, and factory-made pieces, $40-45 was a steal for this set. Even though I work in nonprofit and do not make a lot of money now, the person I am today would probably be willing to pay double for such a wonderful set. I am very happy that we were able to happen upon this market on a beautiful Sunday in Granada, Spain.