Menu

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Showing 1 to 10 of 52 results

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Nikki Smith - the most published climbing photographer you've never heard of

By Ashley Lodato

 

The first time she tied into a rope and started up a rock face, says Nikki Smith, “I knew it was what I wanted to do. Nothing else existed when I was there—just the rock, holds, and [the people] with me.”

 On rock and ice, Nikki is grace and power, strength and strategy. Her expression is relaxed, even carefree, working her way up rock faces and frozen waterfalls that at best look daunting to the average climber—and downright death-defying to those of us whose best days on the sharp end are behind us.

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine 

But Nikki is not the average climber. She’s a woman who has leveraged her appetite for the climbing life into a career that promotes and celebrates the sport that brings her so much joy. Few of us find a passion at 16 that we manage to turn into both a profession and a lifestyle, but Nikki has done just that, through creative expression, athleticism, innovation, diligence, and determination.

As the owner of Pull Photography, Pull Designs, and Pull Publishing, Nikki integrates her enthusiasm for climbing, her visual aesthetic, her instinctive entrepreneurialism, and her empathetic gaze into the human condition. She works with her hands, her eyes, and her intuition. To some degree, Nikki’s approach to her business ventures seems to mirror her approach to climbing. “Like books and art,” she says, “[climbing] requires a focus that quiets everything else. I…solve a new problem with every climb. Some I can unlock easily in a single try, some take years to unlock the intricacies.”

 Nikki was introduced to photography as a child, when her amateur photographer father gave her a camera. A few of her photos won blue ribbons at the Utah State Fair—“pretty cool for a 5-year-old,” she says. But it wasn’t until Nikki learned to use a darkroom in high school that she really started to love the art form. “Being involved in the entire process brought more creativity and freedom,” she says.

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

In college, Nikki pulled tendons in 2 fingers on a boulder problem and couldn’t climb for a while. Photographing her friends climbing enabled her to remain an active part of the climbing scene while she was injured. Eventually, Nikki worked with a few established photographers in the Salt Lake City area and “begged them to critique [her] work.” As she started to improve, she slowly began to get photographs published. Now, her work is seen in outdoor publications all over the world, as well as in commercial applications. Her breathtaking photos of the people, places, and wildlife across the globe capture the grandeur of this amazing planet and, she says, encourage people to “dream big.”

 Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

Her name, however, is not exactly a household one; Nikki semi-jokingly refers to herself as “the most published climbing photographer nobody has ever heard of.” Still, although it’s Nikki’s climbing and landscape photographs that tend to show up in magazines and ad campaigns, it’s her portraits that bring her the most satisfaction. Trying to summarize a person in one photo, says Nikki, or showing who they are to others, “is my most important work.” She continues, “I didn’t fully realize how important this can be until I lost friends in the mountains and my portraits and action shots were used by friends and family to memorialize them.”

 Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine 

Nikki’s background as a climber allowed her to segue naturally into guiding, which she did while in college, with Utah Mountain Adventures. She also instructed and was in charge of route-setting at Rockreation, a Salt Lake City climbing gym. It was when she began working for climbing and outdoor gear distributor Liberty Mountain, however, that Nikki was able to use her full range of artistic talents—skills she cultivated as a youngster. “In my early years I used to draw and paint a lot,” she says. “I sewed, quilted, and knitted with my mom.” Nikki’s father was into “mountain manning,” she says, so the family spent many weekends attending mountain man rendezvous events all over the west, dressed in period costumes and selling homemade crafts. “We kids made beeswax candles, games, and jewelry,” she says of her early forays into creating products for retail sales.  

 

At Liberty Mountain, Nikki was initially in charge of the climbing program, and then ran both the sponsorship program and the marketing department, creating illustrations, layout, and designs for catalogs and advertisements. During her time at Liberty Mountain, Nikki also started the Cypher brand and designed climbing shoes. All that sewing with mom came in handy.

 Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

Nikki Smith is a climber, photographer, designer, and author. Who has the energy for anything more? Apparently, Nikki Smith. She’s a sponsored athlete, representing big-name companies like Beal Ropes, Grivel, and Cypher, among others. She’s an author, having written feature articles in climbing magazines and five guidebooks to climbing in Utah, with more on the way. She’s a prodigy of first ascents, with more than 200 roped first ascents in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Mongolia and another 200 bouldering first ascents. She’s a climbing access advocate and was a part of the group that founded the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance. She’s an Army veteran, decorated with various medals in the mid-1990s.

Nikki is also an Eagle Scout.

 

Wait, what—an Eagle Scout? Isn’t that just for boys?

 

Right. At least, that’s the way it’s been for the past century (in 2019 girls will be eligible to earn Eagle Scout distinction for the first time in Scouting history). But back in the day when Nikki earned her Eagle Scout badge, she was living with the public identity associated with the gender she was assigned in the womb.

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Born genetically male and raised with the societal expectations that accompany that identity, Nikki says she always felt she was playing the character of a male in order to survive. “My mind and heart is and was always female,” she says, but “society didn’t see me or allow me to be viewed that way. I’ve always been [female], but for most of my life, I wasn’t able to express that. I wasn’t able to show it outwardly.”

 

Climbing and being outside provided a bit of a sanctuary for Nikki, who struggled to reconcile her public identity and her authentic self. “The outdoors and climbing were some of the few places I’ve ever felt I belonged,” she says.

 

Recently, Nikki has mustered up some of the grit and determination that have taken her so far professionally and channeled them into personal fulfillment. She changed her name and gender marker, underwent surgeries, bought some new clothes, and is finally living in public as her true self—the woman she has always been in mind, heart, and soul. “I’m dropping everything I used to pretend to be a man,” she says. “Transitioning,” she says, is not (as many of us assume) transitioning from being a man to being a woman or vice versa. It’s transitioning out of pretending to be one way and instead embracing being true to oneself, one’s nature. Nikki didn’t transition into being a woman—she transitioned into living outwardly as the woman she always has been.

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

The processing of coming out has been freeing, but is not without its challenges. “While most of my life and how people treat me is great,” Nikki says, “I am stared at, laughed at, pointed at, and whispered about daily. It can take a toll.”

 

But far more painful was the toll of living as someone she was not. As Nikki grew older, the issues she internalized about her gender identity led her to depression and, eventually, suicidal thoughts, even plans. In an extraordinarily serendipitous internet browsing session, however, author Brené Brown’s quoted encouragement to “show up and be seen” inspired Nikki to go out in public as her true self, so she went to a Las Vegas dance club and enjoyed 4 hours of “indescribable…freedom and joy. I was able to exist as the real me.” She knew then that she had to “get over my fear of what people would think of me. I just had to let go and begin the hard work. So I did.”

 

Time is growing short,” Brown’s quotation notes, “There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” Brown’s words spoke to Nikki “in a way nothing else ever had. I decided then and there to put off my [suicide] plans and try something different. Deep inside I had always known what was wrong but was too afraid to face it.”

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Shortly after, Nikki began therapy.  Since then, she says, “I’ve let go of so much hurt, self-hatred, and negativity. The last six months have been some of the happiest of my life. I can finally look in the mirror and not hate the reflection I see staring back.”

 

When Nikki looks in the mirror now, she sees the woman she has always been inside: stylish clothing, tasteful makeup, killer jewelry. Oh yes, jewelry. Because as a global ambassador for Bronwen Jewelry, Nikki wears some of her favorite pieces both on and off the rock, like her Beaded Fisherman’s Necklace and her Glasswrap Bracelet.

 

Nikki and Bronwen met at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, when a mutual friend brought Nikki to the Bronwen booth for some accessorizing. When Nikki requested special sizing on a few pieces, Bronwen’s team was delighted to oblige, building a custom assortment for Nikki. “We make jewelry because it brings joy to women,” founder Bronwen Lodato says, “and if we can be a part of helping a woman feel powerfully feminine, beautiful, sexy, and truly happy in her own skin, then we’ve succeeded in our mission.”

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Nikki’s other go-to Bronwen pieces are her Amazon Woman Earrings (“pretty fitting for an Amazon like me,” she laughs) and her Open Gold Circle Beaded Fishermans Necklace. Like the rest of Bronwen Jewelry’s active line necklaces and bracelets, all of Nikki’s favorite Bronwen pieces integrate seamlessly not only with her aesthetic style, but with her lifestyle. “Even when working out I can still connect with the glamorous side of myself,” Nikki says. “It’s beautiful [and] I can wear it climbing, trail running, biking, and camping.”

 

Nikki’s history with jewelry is a bit complicated. Growing up, she loved making jewelry. “I could never wear it, though,” she says. “It was always for sale or gifts and only for my sisters and mom to wear. Jewelry was not allowed in my young life, and that carried on long afterward. I didn’t wear rings, watches, necklaces until I fully embraced who I am.”

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Now, Nikki says, jewelry “is just a part of me. It allows me to express myself beyond clothing.” It’s more than just an expression of style, however; jewelry is part of Nikki’s growing confidence in her identity. “While it might not always be,” she says, “right now jewelry, makeup, clothing, and my sense of style are tied together and act as a type of armor. I feel strong and can face the world and those who don’t believe I should be a part of it when I am styled the way I want. I’m not doing it for others—it’s to help me feel beautiful and strong. When I feel that way, anything is possible.”

 

This sense of possibility, of confidence, is a welcome feeling for someone who has always felt that she “saw the world a little differently than others” and that she was always playing a character that others expected to see. Nikki’s early years were characterized by a juxtaposition of uncertainty and sheer normalcy. Her father’s work as a cartographer for the US Forest Service led the family from Moab, Utah, to the Wasatch Front, where Nikki was raised. Family activities were wholesome outdoor adventures— fossil and mineral collecting, led by her father, whose background was in geology and archeology.

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Nikki’s family was Mormon, and the church provided many necessities before her father died of leukemia when Nikki was 14, after many years of illness. “The church and the congregation provided Christmases,” she says. “And food and clothing when I was younger.”

 

As a child, Nikki loved art and drew all the time. Although she didn’t pursue writing at the same time she dove into visual arts like drawing and painting, in recent years, it has become an important component of Nikki’s self-expression. Books written by others, however, were prominent features in Nikki’s young life. “Books and the library were a refuge from the confusion of my life. They were a window into other worlds.”

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

When Nikki thinks back on herself as a child, she wishes she could tell that younger self “I’m sorry I doubted you for so long. I hid and hated you. I thought I was protecting you, but I was wrong. Never again. It will all turn out ok. Your friends will embrace you. You will be loved not only by your wife, family, and friends but in time, by yourself. Someday you will look in the mirror and love who you see. You are strong and smart and beautiful. You will travel the world and make a living off your art. Don’t listen to those who tell you that you can’t accomplish what you want, that you can’t be yourself. Don’t listen to those who mock you and hurt you. They are in pain themselves.

 

 

Although Nikki hasn’t shed the sting of struggling with her identity as a child, she is directing the memory of that confusion into helping others in similar situations by speaking up, by showing up and being seen. “I’m not ashamed that I am transgender and will do what I can to speak out on issues that affect the trans and queer community,” she says.

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

 

Nikki is unapologetically transgender, but refuses to let that single label define her; it’s just one aspect of who she is, the way it is with any other trans- or cisgender person. When she’s not climbing rock or ice, Nikki stays in shape by running 50-mile ultramarathons and competing in 200+-mile road bike events. Plus, she gardens, cooks, bakes, and creates cocktails, apparently in her “spare” time. (Sorry, folks, she’s already married.)

 

And whether it’s on the rock face, behind the camera lens, at the publishing desk, in the design studio, or on the dance floor at the nightclub, Nikki Smith is all in, showing up and being seen.

 

Bronwen Jewelry Nikki Smith Photography Climbing Outside Magazine

Nikki writes openly and poignantly about her suicidal thoughts HERE and about coming out HERE. And her Instagram feed is a veritable visual delight. 

 

Some helpful and interesting links for those seeking to learn more about transgender people.

Transgender frequently asked questions

Transgender allies

National Geographic article on transgender people

Chris Mosier: first transgender person on Team USA

Chris Mosier: breaking barriers
Transgender athletes

Growing Up Transgender and Mormon | Short Film Showcase

Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story
Lady Valor: The full documentary

Transgender, at War and in Love

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Back to School Style with Bronwen Jewelry

by Ashley Lodato

You went to school to learn, girl, things you never, never knew before

Like "i" before "e" except after "c," and why 2 plus 2 makes 4...y

Let's face it: no one could make going back to school as appealing as young Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, circa 1970. But let the gals at Bronwen Jewelry give it a shot--we'll show you what it's all about. 

In elementary school, you're all about singing it out, loud and proud. You mix colors and fabrics and patterns like a boss. Floral with stripes? Bring it on. Denim with tulle? Don't mind if I do.

In elementary school, going back into the classroom is no reason to abandon the dress-up ethic you embrace at home. You want to sparkle and shine, and Bronwen's line of children's jewelry can help you do just that, easy as 1, 2, 3. All our artisan children's jewelry is handcrafted with the same care and the same materials we use in our adult collections. We know you appreciate quality as much for your kids as you do for yourself. 

There's nary a little girl on the planet who won't find something she loves in our Tiny Charm collection of necklaces and Earrings. Would she like a little fairy hanging around her neck? Or what about a magic wand? Or a monkey? Whether she fancies the fanciful mermaid charm or she favors the elegant feather, our Tiny Charms will reflect her tastes. And with Tiny Charm earrings to complement or contrast, she can sport a complete set of these sweet, lightweight, water-friendly charms. Some call it surf jewelry, some call it sports jewelry; we call it active jewelry and your little girl can wear it wherever she goes.

Some days (oh, let's face it--EVERY day) your elementary school girl wants to shimmer with every color of the rainbow. These are days for our Aurelia Beaded Post Earrings. Handmade with love in a traditional form by an established Fair Trade artisan in Mexico, these intricate and bright beaded earrings are the perfect pop-out post around. 

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Your little girl's bohemian outfit simply cries out for one of our Ribbon Wrap Bracelets. Sized perfectly for her tiny wrist, our Petite B ribbon wrap features a hand-dyed natural silk ribbon and an adorable pewter heart clasp. And if your girl forever has paint or mud up to her elbows, skip the ribbon wrap and opt instead for one of our Swim Wrap Bracelets, which are made from repurposed swimsuit material and fare better in the water than the silk ribbons. Our handmade bracelet wraps are among our most popular items for all ages.

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

The Jackson 5 told us that reading, writing, and arithmetic are the branches of the learning tree, but they left out one critical element: accessorizing. Never fear--your middle school girl won't let you forget that one. By middle school, your little girl has reined in her aesthetic a bit, but she hasn't lost that passion for jewelry that reflects who she is. 

Tiny Charm Necklaces and Earrings remain just as popular with this crowd as they are with the little people, but your middle school girl may be ready for less whimsical and more realistic charms, like the Tiny Charm Lotus Earrings or our popular 3 Petal or the Lucky You Horseshoe necklaces. 

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Your girl who spent her summer in the backcountry can carry a little bit of the wilderness with her in her Mountain Tiny Charm Earrings, and memories of a sunny summer vacation can be held in her Sunburst Necklace

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Your middle school girl is experimenting with her style, figuring out how what she wears says about who she is. She may explore her edgy side a bit, with our Prayer Flag Necklace or Ronja Post Earrings, or possibly even becoming a trendsetter at her school with a pair of ear jackets, cultivating a bit of intrigue to her persona. 

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Back in the day, middle school girls used to stack their wrists with embroidery thread friendship bracelets or cheap bangles. These days, their tastes reflect a more refined aesthetic. Still, there's hardly a middle school around who isn't attracted to the idea of a wrist full of bracelets. Whether your girl prefers the sumptuous Ribbon Wrap Bracelets, the beaded Waterweave Bracelets, or the hardy Swim Wrap Bracelets--or all three!--she'll find beautiful ways to express her style through her choice of wrist adornment. 

By high school, your girl is ready to show YOU what it's all about, so take a seat. High school is about expressing one's identity, presenting bold choices, and making one's mark. Get your girl over here and we'll help style her in a way that reflects her personality.

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Nothing confirms your place in the high school style manual like the first-day-of-school display of a Braided Santo Necklace, backed up by our simple but dramatic Catania Earrings. You go, girl. 

For everyday wear, Glasswrap Bracelets and Ribbon Wrap Bracelets complement any outfit, from jeans to a prom dress, while our Pyrite Trail Necklace can be layered with just about any other piece in your jewelry box, and left on for days or weeks.  

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

We can't guarantee results, but we're pretty sure our Amazon Woman Earrings infuse the wearer with a sense of courage and strength, which could come in handy when taking a test or doing a presentation. Special occasions call for statement jewelry, and our Cascade Earrings and Cascade Necklace are sure to attract all the right kind of attention while making you feel brave and beautiful.

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

You might not be allowed to wear jewelry while playing sports, but nothing says you can't accessorize for game day before hitting the locker room. Our Beaded Fisherman's Necklace is both dramatic and simple, crafted to be sturdy and featuring faceted Czech glass beads and spacers strung on delicate-looking but super strong cord. And our vibrant Condesa Bracelet on your wrist just serves to remind you that you are just as colorful, dynamic, and unique as the Mexico City neighborhood this bracelet is named after. 

bronwen jewelry back to school kids jewelry

Whether you've got the back-to-school blues or you've been waiting for this day ever since school let out last June, the gals at Bronwen Jewelry know how you feel. And we're here to help you find your inner shine, all year long. So listen to us baby, that's all you got to do. With Bronwen Jewelry, back-to-school style is as simple as do-re-mi.

 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Gems from Around the World

Gems from Around the World

8/31/2018 11:45 AM

by Ashley Lodato 

A 1972 photo of Earth taken by NASA's Apollo 17 spacecraft was later called "Blue Marble," and went on to become one of the most reproduced images in history. This glittering blue marble, our gem of a planet, swirls of white and green and grey and blue sparkling in the reflected light of the sun--it hangs like a tiny jewel in a vast universe. And on its surface lies a treasure trove of precious and semi-precious gems that Bronwen Jewelry brings to you in the form of handmade jewelry

At Bronwen Jewelry, we embrace the beauty the earth has to offer, and use its places, colors, and textures to inspire our artisan jewelry designs. And we also use its jewels, sourcing our gemstones from around the world. Shall we take you on a tour?

Jaipur, India, is the gem capital of India, and has for 300 years attracted those who seek to have the world's finest gems cut, polished, and mounted. In the 17th century, the ruling Maharaja brought artisans from around India to craft jewelry, sword hilts, and, allegedly, jeweled ankle bracelets for elephants. Jaipur's craftsmen soon gained distinction as they honed their craft, particularly for cutting brittle stones like emeralds.

Sadly, Bronwen Jewelry has no demand for bejeweled ankle bracelets for elephants (but should you have a need, please don't hesitate to ask us for a custom design), but we do happen to have some lovely anklets sized for humans that would make any bling-loving elephant envious. We also offer the jewels of India in the form of our Preciosa Necklace, which features tiny faceted rounds of natural ruby punctuated by gold or silver spacers and a sweet charm, and our Athena Necklace, which pairs Indian sodalite with gold or silver faceted beads and a unique pendant. 

Bronwen Jewelry Active Jewelry Handmade Jewelry

Just to the south, the tiny country of Sri Lanka has a long tradition of sustainable practice gemstone mining, completed by hand in small pits. Compared with large-scale open pit mining, these artisanal mines provide more stable employment for miners as well as conferring far less damage on the environment. While large scale mines result in open, abandoned pits,  in Sri Lanka the tiny pits are almost always filled in and revegetated, or the landowners face fines for neglecting to rehabilitate the mine. 

Rich secondary deposits--gravel--in Sri Lanka yield an astonishing array of sapphire, ruby, garnet, tourmaline, topaz, and other gemstones. The island's geologic conditions create a perfect blend of chemistry, heat, and pressure that foster the growth of gem crystals. And this makes us oh-so happy, because we just can't resist the gems that form and weather in the Sri Lankan soil and water. 

Farther east, Thai Hill Tribes are busy smithing silver bangles, beads, charms, and pendants as they have for nearly a millennium. The work of these skilled craftspeople is revered worldwide, as their silver pieces are distinctively stylish, with smooth, textured, carved, and hammered finishes. Take our Tiny Charm Moonbeam Necklace, for example. In this simple pendant you see the stamp of the artisan hand and the care with which the Hill Tribe people treat their art. You can witness this same level of attention to detail in our Tiny Charm Thai Smile, our Tiny Charm Flower Heart, and our Tiny Charm Thai Fish.

Bronwen Jewelry Active Jewelry Handmade JewelryYou want to hit the waves after the office? Go right ahead--this jewelry was made for surfing. No tarnish, no tangle. All of our Hill Tribe silver pieces are sweat, swim, shower, and sand-friendly, accompanying you from the gym to work, to the riverbank, and to cocktails afterwards. 

From the European continent comes the earth's gift of Czech glass beads, which are used in so many of our bracelet wraps that we've almost lost track! Our Condesa Bracelets, for example, are saturated with the rich color of the Czech glass beads and accented by shiny silver or gold spacers. The look and feel of our Glasswrap Bracelets--which also feature Czech glass-- is so irresistible that once you fasten one on, you'll find yourself hard-pressed to take it off again. The same is true for our Waterweave Bracelets, the lower-profile little sister of the Glasswrap. Same Czech glass beads, same water-friendly design, but at a lower price. 

Bronwen Jewelry Active Jewelry Handmade Jewelry

From the Americas come beauties like our Dreamcatcher Necklace, which highlights natural green turquoise from Arizona and a playful gold or silver 2-tier charm, and the Sea Drift Necklace, in which the contrasting blues, browns, whites and blacks of gorgeous Rainbow Amazonite provide a captivating visual intrigue. The Sea Drift Necklace is as dreamy as its name. 

Would you like to experience the glittering treasures of the Blue Marble? Let Bronwen Jewelry take you there. 

 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Jewelry Shines at Outdoor Retailer

by Ashley Lodato

When Bronwen Lodato of Bronwen Jewelry was instructing backpacking courses in Central Oregon for Outward Bound in the late 1990s, she longed for some jewelry that would withstand the rigors of extended stints in the field. Jewelry that would retain its shine and polish even after two or three weeks of exposure to sun, sweat, dirt, and water. In her early 20s Bronwen had enjoyed a brief macrame-and-shell necklace crafting phase, but this time she had her eye set on something more refined--jewelry that was delicate and sexy, yet sturdy and resilient. 

Bronwen couldn't find what she was looking for--so she made it! And 12 years later she debuted Bronwen Jewelry at the Outdoor Retailer trade show (OR) in 2008, as the pioneer of the active jewelry category. 

Bronwen Jewelry Outdoor Retailer

For the past 11 years Bronwen and the crew of Bronwen Jewelry have set up a booth at OR's Summer Market, introducing the Bronwen brand to new customers and showing existing Bronwen aficionados the latest lines of outdoor jewelry, leather cuffs, active bracelets, swim wrapsear jackets, and other handcrafted artisan jewelry that is as at home in the backcountry as it is on the dance floor.

At OR we see old friends and make new ones. We look at outdoor gear and dream about expeditions we want to take, or reminisce about trips we've had in the past. OR is a chance to share our love of outdoor activities and showcase our contribution to the industry: artisan jewelry that celebrates the places and activities that make us feel alive.

Bronwen Jewelry Outdoor Retailer

It used to be that when a woman packed for a trip to the mountains, the river, or the crags she left her jewelry at home. But with Bronwen Jewelry, women can now bring their favorite pieces outside with them. Outdoorsy gals may get their hands and shirts dirty when they're playing hard in wild places, but their Bronwen Jewelry won't lose its shine. Not all of our pieces are swim/sweat/shower friendly--such as some of our artisanal statement necklaces or global market items--but most of them are. So you can simply clip on your favorite piece and wear it until you're ready for a new look. 

Bronwen Jewelry Outdoor Retailer

Whether our lines of jewelry handmade in the USA are water-friendly or not, they're all protected by our signature repair/replace warrantyBecause at Bronwen Jewelry, we stand behind the quality of our products as firmly as we stand behind the belief that women should play hard in the backcountry without worrying about their jewelry. 

Get outside, live big, don't hold back--Bronwen Jewelry has you covered. 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Jewelry to Get Your Zen On

Jewelry to Get Your Zen On

6/28/2018 9:05 PM

by Ashley Lodato

Summer's here, you're hustling from place to place, trying to do it all, see it all, be it all and then every once in a while you realize you've been so busy you've been living in the future, not the present. So you stop for a minute, breathe, and remind yourself to be fully present in the here and now. This is your Zen moment.

Zen Buddhism and its very essence defy succinct description. Zen Buddhism is a practice that must be experienced to be understood, not a concept that can be intellectualized or understood in conventional ways. Some say that we cannot intellectually grasp Zen due to the limitations of human intelligence and wisdom; others refer to Zen as a spiritual awakening.

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, during the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. Meditation is central to Zen philosophy, and indeed, the very name Zen is a derivation of the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means "absorption" or "meditative state." Indeed, one evolution of Zen Buddhism is the more general practice of calm attentiveness and introspection guided by intuition instead of directed effort--a total focus that emphasizes the unity of mind and body.

We at Bronwen Jewelry don't profess to be Zen masters, but we fully embrace the tranquility and focus behind Zen philosophy. And although we've designed our jewelry to withstand the rigors of gals on the go, we also honor these same women's needs to slow the pace, examine the self, and seek a calming mindset. So if you're looking for Zen-inspired jewelry to complement your practice or remind you to observe life more fully, our Zen style can be found in any number of our pieces of outdoor and artisan handcrafted jewelry.

Chakra Necklaces

The seven chakras are the centers in our bodies in which energy flows through. Each of the seven centers possesses its own color and vibrational frequency; these chakras govern various emotional issues, from our survival instincts and self-esteem to our ability to communicate and experience love.  Our beautiful chakra collection is made of sterling silver (Fair Trade cast in Thailand), double-sided with one side etched with the chakra symbol and the other side with the corresponding chakra in Sanskrit. 

Zen Jewelry Chakra Necklace Bronwen Jewelry

Possibilities Necklace

Our sterling silver Possibilities pendant depicts a lotus rising from the mud to become more powerful and beautiful. On you, it will be a reminder of your own strength and potential, and of life's infinite possibilities. 

Abundance Necklace

Living in abundance is a mindset that involves viewing life through a lens of optimism and gratitude. The five principles of abundance in Zen let us live our lives more fully, with hands and hearts open. Our beautiful sterling silver Abundance pendant is all palms open ready to accept and receive.   

Zen Jewelry Chakra Necklace Bronwen Jewelry

Solstice Anklet

Our Solstice Anklet honors the Earth's path around the sun and the way the sun seems to hang weightless in the sky at the zenith during the summer and winter solstices. These appearances of the pause in orbit remind us to pause, breathe, and surrender to life's beautiful journey. 

Hamsa Hand

The Hamsa hand symbolizes the interconnection of the chakras, the body's energy flow, and the five senses. It has also been thought to ward off "the evil eye." The jury is still out on whether our sweet Tiny Charm Hamsa Hand can ward off the evil eye, but it will certainly attract some glances of envy! Sleek and lightweight, yet deceptively durable, this little necklace--like all of our Tiny Charm Necklaces--is so easy to wear you'll find you leave it on for weeks at a time.

Om Shanti Tiny Charm

Once you're on a roll with Tiny Charm jewelry, it's hard to stop! An excellent mantra for Zen meditation, Om Shanti Shanti Shanti combines the Sanskrit words "om," which is a cosmic vibration, and "shanti," the word for peace, calm, or bliss. And after putting on your Om Shanti Tiny Charm necklace, you'll be pretty blissed out. Wear this delicate pendant to symbolize your hope for individual, collective, and universal peace. 

Mala Necklace

A mala is a strand of beads used in meditation, so we incorporated the most beautiful and unique handmade Tibetan beads in a precise 108 mala count punctuated by a patina Buddha pendant. Small batch handmade beads ensure that your Mala Necklace is unique and thoughtfully constructed, like the rest of Bronwen's handcrafted artisan jewelry.

Sunburst Necklace

Something about our Sunburst Necklace just puts you in the frame of mind for a restorative meditation or yoga practice. A perfect combination of sophistication and practicality, this detailed pendant necklace is beautiful and interesting in shape. Not only does it hold up to vigorous flow yoga, but it's happy to get wet in the river, ocean, or shower as well. 

Zen Jewelry Chakra Necklace Bronwen Jewelry

Ribbon Wraps

If there's anything you want to be while meditating, it's comfortable. Our Ribbon Wrap Bracelets are made of sumptuously soft silk hand-dyed in the USA and are our signature best seller for good reason! We should warn you, however; deciding which one to buy is the tricky part. We even sell Kids Ribbon Wrap Bracelets, for that special child in your life!  

Infinity Necklace

The concept of infinity is something without bounds and our Infinity Necklace knows no bounds when it comes to dressing you up or down. This lightweight pendant necklace is elegant and interesting in shape and is a perfect combination of sophistication and practicality. Infinite possibilities for accessorizing with this beauty; it goes equally well with hiking attire, beach wear, or a little black dress. 

Balance Necklace

Ah, balance--the thing we're all seeking. You might not have it in your life, but at least you can have it around your neck, giving you hope for calmer days ahead. Like the Infinity Necklace, the Balance Necklace transitions seamlessly from the hills to the hot spots, giving you flair with your activewear or perfectly complementing your strappy sundress. 

Zen Jewelry Chakra Necklace Bronwen Jewelry

Every piece of Bronwen Jewelry is protected by our signature lifetime repair/replace warranty; always has been, always will be. And all of our outdoor and artisan jewelry is handcrafted right in our Bend, OR, studio under Fair Trade practices. Knowing we offer this level of quality gives us a feeling of tranquility--you might say it's our Zen business model

So play hard this summer. Weed your garden; get dirt under your fingernails. Get waterlogged and bruised; scrape your knees. Stay up too late, watch the meteor showers, savor the sunrise. But cherish the pauses in the pandemonium, breathe deeply, and be present in the time and space you occupy. At Bronwen Jewelry, we're here for your Zen moments.

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Life on the Side of the Mountain - Guestblog by Jill Wheeler

Creating meaningful work and serving with love is the antidote to despair and loneliness in this big and befuddling world. Belonging is a force that fortifies our most basic foundation; our self as connected to others and a world worth fighting for.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

 

While en route home to Boulder, Colorado following another deeply fulfilling and inspiring week with Wellfit Girls, I reflected upon a statement one of our leaders expressed to the girls in our final circle. “I may be your leader, but you are my teachers.” Through tears, humility and grace, I experienced great pride in that moment. Pride, not because I created an organization that led an amazing group of 19 young women and five staff members to Peru for our fifth year in a row, but because I have gotten out of my own way for my mentees to take ownership of this program as if it were their very own. This is no small gift and I behold it with great reverence; I have not only envisioned purpose, I have enabled and nurtured it to fruition. In order to do this, I spent years leading in my way, then stepping out of my way, to let others lead in their own way.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry 

This may sound cliché and trite, but it’s as brave a thing as I’ve ever done—handing over the reins. It’s like planning for the adventure of a lifetime and not checking the weather, showing up surprised, unprepared (or possibly perfectly prepared), miserable and/or satisfied all at once. Sharing our vision with others and allowing them to claim it as their own makes for one fantastic and authentic adventure. If we try to control everything ourselves, the natural cycle of change will stagnate and growth will cease.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

 

I grew up believing in and abiding by the “American Dream”. I don’t recall collaboration and connection with alliances at the top of How to Be an American Success story. I was expected to surpass my parents in education and wealth, climb the corporate ladder and achieve excellence and success at all costs—mainly the message was, stomp over your competitors. Individual pursuit was not only encouraged in society, it was preferred. Although I was acknowledged as a “natural leader” my entire life, I felt alone in my mind, unaware of my true potential to lead and influence for good in the world. I was not motivated by financial gain like many of my peers; and social justice and environmental issues continued to be my paramount concerns throughout my life. How would I ever be successful if these were my goals?

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

I continue to meet this once-younger-me in many of the young women we serve at Wellfit Girls. In most of their one-on-one sessions during our 10-day Peru expedition, their self-proclaimed greatest challenge was “their negative thoughts” or “lack of confidence”.  When faced with nature’s bountiful opportunities for challenge, they actively and powerfully stepped through them, one rocky, high altitude, oxygen-deprived and icy step at a time. It wasn’t the obvious thin air, cold temperatures, nausea, fatigue or back-aching physical labor of service that challenged the girls the most—it was their own thoughts—the 65 thousand some-odd ones they walk with daily.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry 

Deceptive, destructive or even mildly distracting thoughts, I’m not like anyone else. I don’t fit in. If anyone knew who I really was they wouldn’t like me. I can’t. It’s too hard. I’m not fit enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not enough. I’m too small. I’m too big. I’m too poor. I’m too much. I’m too different.

The. List. Goes. On.

Until we flip the script. Until we talk more honestly with one another. Until we validate our wholeness. Until we stop criticizing our parts. Until we show each other we matter. Until we show ourselves we matter.

Until we lead the way.

And I’m not saying everyone should go climb a mountain or hike a trail (well, yes, actually, I am saying that). You must if you can or even if you think you can’t, because nature is the most badass place to be and hiking is hard and when you do hard things then you prove you can do other hard things, so there, I said it.

 

Take a hike!

 

We use the mountains as metaphors in our program as a strong inspiration to “climb high in all areas of life” and life rarely presents us with one daunting mountain per life. We get ranges of peaks to ascend in our lifetimes; sometimes arduously, perilously and painstakingly slow, other times with great ease, adventure and joy.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry 

One thing I confidently, proudly, heart-burstingly know for sure; no matter the difficultly of the mountains we will climb in life, it’s always better with a trail full of power sisters and brothers in front of and behind you.  You don’t have to be the strongest or fastest to be a leader. You don’t have to always know the physical way (there are guides for that). You must simply show up—mind ready and open hearted to adventure.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

 

Nietzsche reminds us, that on the mountain of truth, one never climbs in vain; we either reach a higher step today or exercise our strength to climb higher tomorrow.

Not everyone reaches bold, beautiful and blissful summits in life. In fact, for most, summits are brief moments, far and few between, marked by tenacious time on the trail of life, endless endurance on the side of the mountains.

Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

 

The flailing and resting and pausing and doubting and supporting and stopping and starting again and questioning and continuing and crying and laughing and loving and getting to know every little thing about our selves and each other. That’s building character. That’s the side of the mountain. That’s the hummingbirds and sweet, wild strawberries and river crossings and coffee plantations and purple flowers and pink, orange and yellow ones, too. That’s barfing from altitude sickness, but rallying and walking again. The trail to the top is fun facts about cirrus and lenticular clouds and how to hike cool and sleep warm in the mountains and what’s your favorite thing to eat and how your parents met and what you want to be when you grow up and how much you love your dog and what your siblings names are and a million other reasons why taking a slow and hard hike with a bunch of people is a really good idea for your state of mind and the heart and soul of leadership.

 

Summits don’t matter in the long or short term. It’s the lessons along the way we give to ourselves, and the ones that mama Earth offers so generously. Nature kicks us all in the behind equally. When it rains, we all get wet—rich or poor, skinny or round. We believe the greatest positive influencers in the world will be humbled and empowered by nature’s grace and grit, no matter where we are from, what we look like or where we are going.

 Jill Wheeler Wellfit Institute Bronwen Jewelry

One of the greatest gifts of this intensive five-month leadership program was actually not the surprise (yummy) chocolate-making workshop in Cusco, it was the opportunity to hike a trail that led us to the mountain, and the mountain that led us to ourselves. While we did summit with success and pride, it was the lessons along the way that impacted the girls the most, specifically their ability to rein in a couple hundred, perhaps even thousand thoughts or so to make a positive trail marker on their minds for life, knowing they are not alone, fortifying the path to prosperity through connection and belonging.

 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Outdoor Jewelry for the Summer Solstice

by Ashley Lodato

Summer solstice 2018 dawns in the early hours of Thursday, June 21st, and with it ushers in the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. Warm nights, lazy days, feet bare, hair pulled back--if you're a child of summer then this is the launch of your time to shine. And Bronwen Jewelry is right here to help you blend your love of summer with your love of simple, sexy artisan jewelry

Derived from the Latin word solstitium ("sol" = sun + "stitium" = stand still), the summer and winter solstices mark the times of midsummer and midwinter when the sun seems to hang in the sky without moving as it reaches its zenith. Nearly every agricultural society in history has noted these days each year, and many societies left elaborate recordings of the sun's travels.

The summer solstice celebrates the sun in all its full glory--its fire, its light, its power. At Bronwen Jewelry, we like to celebrate those same qualities in YOU--your fire, your light, your power. In honor of the summer sun, we offer these unique pieces of handcrafted jewelry to applaud the blazing star that brings us life.

Our Beaded Desert Sun Cuff is not only our most recent curation from a women's creative cooperative in Colombia, it's also our latest favorite. Lightweight but deceptively sturdy, this Fair Trade statement piece is a burst of color on your wrist. 

Soltice Jewelry Bronwen Jewelry

The Sun Disc Ring Set shimmers on your fingers like the sun shimmers in the sky. Contrasting metals (sterling silver, 24k gold vermeil, and rose gold) evoke images of the sun and its coppery tones, while the hammered detail echoes the texture of the sun's fiery surface. 

Ear jackets are all the rage and our Sun Ray Ear Jacket leads the pack for elegance and edginess. Three rays of sterling silver or 24k gold vermeil radiate out from an ancient Mexican-inspired post, paying homage to the indigenous civilizations whose lives were inextricably linked with the sun.

Our simple and sweet Sunburst Necklace whispers to the world your attachment to the sun's warmth and light. Like all of our Tiny Charm necklaces, the Sunburst is lightweight, swim/sweat/shower friendly, and sporty in function. 

Where would the moon be without the sun? Hidden from our view, that's for sure. The sun brings the moon to light, literally, and we honor that relationship with our New Moon Necklace, which represents the start of a new lunar cycle, new beginnings, fresh starts. The sterling silver pendant is strung on a sturdy cord dotted with pops of 24k vermeil and stands up to water, sand, dirt, and sweat.

Two other moon-focused Tiny Charms you're sure to love are our Crescent Moon and Moonbeam necklaces.  Sweet and functional, these necklaces work well when you're working hard to summit a peak, top out on a climb, or run a rapid, but they're lovely accessories for casual or dressy attire as well. The Tiny Charm necklaces and earrings are unique outdoor jewelry for gals who spend their summers outdoors. 

Solstice Jewelry Bronwen Jewelry

On this shortest night of the year, let's not forget the stars in the heavens above. Twinkling down on us in the dark skies, they're the encore once the sun has exited the stage. Our Mixed Metal Star Ring is sleek and intriguing, with its contrast of sterling silver and brass. The Tiny Charm Star is a go-to piece for the girls of summer; in fact, once you clip it on you might not take it off until the autumnal equinox, it's so light, comfortable, and cute. If you're starry-eyed about our artisan jewelry, go all out with our matching collection of tiny stars: Teeny Star necklaceMixed Metal Star Ring, and Teeny Star Post Earrings. And don't forget the mini-me in your life; bring her along on your celestial journey with a Petite B Shooting Star Necklace for kids. 

Soltice Jewelry Bronwen Jewelry

Life can sometimes feel like one long orbit, as you move from home, to work, to errands, to home, to work.... Like the earth, you seem to be forever orbiting something grander. But it's a long and beautiful journey, punctuated by shining moments and fits of passion. As you give thanks to the sun and all the luminescence it delivers, take a moment to celebrate yourself and all the radiance you bring to the world. And let Bronwen Jewelry help you bring your inner shine to light. 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Gifts for Graduates

Gifts for Graduates

6/10/2018 9:25 PM

by Ashley Lodato

With Pomp and Circumstance playing as robed graduates march down aisles all over the country, a beloved milestone event has been occurring in high schools and colleges all over the country this month. If you've been to one traditional commencement ceremony, it's as if you've been to them all: the welcome, the march, the student speakers, the inspirational speech, the distribution of diplomas, the moving of the tassel, the throwing of the mortarboards, the crying parents. 

And yet it is this sameness that makes these ceremonies so significant. The ritual signifies to us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves--something that is being replicated throughout June in communities across the country. 

But while all commencement ceremonies are the same, each graduate is unique. We are all, each of us, like snowflakes--individual, distinctive, imbued with our own idiosyncrasies, possessed of our own individualism. That's why when you're thinking about gifts for graduates, you are considering the singular preferences of the person you're shopping for. 

So who is your graduate and what can Bronwen Jewelry help you give her? 

The Bohemian

Your girl is all soft curls and flowing skirts, barefoot half the year, a true free spirit. She'll love our Ribbon Wrap Bracelets, with their sumptuous hand-dyed silk and sparkly gold or silver plated pewter bangles. With dozens of colors to choose from, the Ribbon Wrap complements any skin tone and outfit, and perfectly suits the gypsy temperament.

Graduation Gifts for girls Bronwen Jewelry

The Scholar

Studious types don't like anything to get in the way of their schoolwork, so the delicately unfussy Tiny Charm Necklace is the perfect choice for your bookworm. The Tiny Charm is lightweight, sweat/swim/shower friendly, and it's strung on 100% nylon cordelette, making it highly durable--even if your girl tugs on it the entire time she's studying. To make your gift extra special, throw in a pair of matching or complementary Tiny Charm Earrings

The Nature Buff

If your favorite graduate heads for the hills every time she gets the chance, then the Landscape Mountain Necklace is the pendant she'll want to wear. The sterling silver and bronze pendant is cast in Thailand under Fair Trade circumstances and hangs delicately from a strong thin cord that is undaunted by sweat. Whether she's wearing it in the backcountry or as a reminder of the places she's happiest, the graduate will be thrilled to bring her mountain with her wherever she goes.  

Graduation Gifts for girls Bronwen Jewelry

The Water Girl

Once your graduate clasps a Waterweave Bracelet around her wrist, she's unlikely to take it off for days--if not weeks--on end. Not only do these bracelets stand up to the shower, they are perfectly at home in saltwater, whitewater, pondwater, icewater, and any other type of water your gal can't keep herself away from. Faceted Czech glass beads are tightly woven into a very durable and water-proof cording with decorative tassel detail. Wear one alone or stack 'em up for a show of color in the water. 

The Artist

The Turquoise Trail Necklace has just the right combination of color, shape, line, form, depth, rhythm, and balance to appeal to the artist's aesthetic. The mixed metal design of sterling silver and 24 karat gold vermeil is slightly edgy, while the pops of turquoise are both grounding and visually interesting. This is one necklace that won't dangle in the paint can when your graduate is hard at work in the studio, and it transitions seamlessly from accessorizing a paint smock to sparkling on a little black dress for evening wear. 

Graduation Gifts for girls Bronwen Jewelry

The Sweetheart

This girl has been nothing short of entirely lovable throughout her life. Honor her with a Bitty Heart Ring that shows her you're aware of the love she spreads in the world. Not only is this delicate ring surprisingly sturdy, it's not syrupy sweet; a contrast of sterling silver and brass makes it visually interesting. It's handmade under Fair Trade practices in Bali and comes in three sizes. Stack with Bronwen's Daily Bands for even more avant-garde appeal. 

Graduation Gifts for girls Bronwen Jewelry

The Girl Who Plays with Fire

We hope there's not actually a pyromaniac in your circle, but there are plenty of fiery girls out there who will delight in the gift of our Matchstick Earrings. Although these small post earrings seem understated, they look dramatic once in the ears: a little bit sleek, a little bit daring. They come in both sterling silver and 24 karat gold, so your graduate can wear the metal she finds most precious. 

Pomp, circumstance, and a little bit of Bronwen--cap and gown not required. 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Off the Beaten Path: 3 Global Travel Destinations

by Ashley Lodato

HYDRA, GREECE

Often called the most beautiful harbor in the world, Hydra, Greece is the gemstone in the crown of the Saronic Islands in the Aegean Sea. No cars are allowed in Hydra, so the only transport is by donkey, bicycle or foot, which gives the small but bustling town of Hydra Port an intimate feel. Although A-list celebrities are frequent guests to the island and its promenade shops and restaurants cater to an upscale clientele, Hydra manages to maintain a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for mainstream travelers, both maritime visitors and those who arrive via water taxi from Piraeus.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Greece

Throughout its history of human habitation beginning around the second half of the third millennium BCE, Hydra has cycled through periods of poverty and prosperity. Farming sustained the island for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the 1970s that Hydra really found its groove as an artist enclave, hosting jet-setting actors, songwriters, painters, and socialites. 

What will you do on your visit to Hydra? 

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Greece

BEACH TIME

Kaminia Beach is located just 1/2 mile west of Hydra. With its shallow waters, it's perfect for families and children. An array of cafes and restaurants within walking distance of the beach complete the appeal.

Vlychos Beach can be reached from Hydra by water taxi or on foot. Its long pebbled beach is relatively undisturbed and tends to be quieter than most. 

Although Spilia Beach is more of a rock diving site than a proper beach, it offers the most exciting plunges into the turquoise sea surrounding it. The Spilia Beach Club serves food and refreshments nearby.

The remote Agios Nikolaos beach is a quintessential Greek beach: aquamarine waters, sandy stretches, and a sheltered cove. It's accessible by foot or boat from Hyra.

EAT & DRINK

Traditional Greek food like tzatziki, moussaka, ouzo, and kleftiko can be found at most of the Hydra restaurants serving Greek fare. Seafood fans will delight in the freshness of the catch of the day, served at most of the seafood eateries. And the Italian influence looms large in Hydra, as evidenced by the many eateries offering Italian food with a Greek twist.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Greece

ACTIVITIES

When you're not eating or on the beach, climb the bastions that flank the harbor, visit one of Hydra's 3 major museums (Historical Archives Museum, Ecclesiastical Museum, Kountouriotis), tour the main cathedral--the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary--or ride horses through town or up steep trails, along the beach, or up steep trails leading to the island's interior.

MERIDA, MEXICO

The capital of Yucatan, Mexico, Merida has a vivid Mayan past and colonial history and is rife with cultural heritage and archaeological sites. Coupled with the fact that it's surrounded by nature reserves, diverse wildlife, cenotes, and tiny charming villages, Merida should be on the bucket list of any international traveler.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Mexico

The blend of Mayan inhabitants and Spanish conquistadors creates a dynamic cultural identity for this town, and its proximity to Quintana Roo's 5-star resorts make it a popular place for visitors from all over the world, giving Merida an international flavor. 

You'll never be at a loss for things to do and see in Merida.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

You've undoubtedly heard of--or even visited--the recently designated wonder of the world Chichen Itza (Mexico's most impressive Mayan ruin), but Merida offers easy access to smaller (and less crowded) sites such as Uxmal, Mayapan Ruins, and Ruta Puuc. 

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Mexico

WILD FLAMINGOS

Yes, wild flamingos. Like the lawn art, but so much better. Just 90 minutes west of Merida, the Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestun is home to thousands of wild flamingos. A boat tour is the best way to experience these animals live, outside of the aisles of dime-store kitsch. 

CENOTES & CAVES

66 million years ago an asteroid slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula and in addition to wiping out the dinosaurs, also created a vast network of limestone sinkholes and caves. Swimming in a cenote is truly a magical experience, as Mayan shamans determined when they performed spiritual rituals in these pools. 

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Mexico

If swimming is not your thing, you can still explore the Yucatan's cave system through dry caverns like Grutas de Calcehtok or Grutas de Loltun. 

THE YELLOW CITY

There's no yellow brick road, but the town of Izamal does a fine job of promoting the golden color through its architecture. Mayan ruins are interspersed throughout the town, and visitors can spend a whole day just finding them and snapping photos of the buildings' unique harmony. 

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Mexico

CRAFTS

Crafts Bazar García Rejón is packed with stalls selling Mexican crafts, fruits and vegetables, flowers--oh, the flowers! (anthuriums! gingers! heliconiums!)--toys, chilis, handbags, salsas, and jewelry. It's a feast for the eyes, and if you can't help but indulge, rest assured that pricing is typically quite reasonable.

MUSEUMS

You won't want to miss Merida's rich cultural history, which can be best experienced through its museums. The Museo del Mundo Maya de Merida is a glimpse into the Yucatán’s ancient history of Mayan life and colonization. The Museum of Anthropology and History features photography and Mayan artifacts, while the Popular Art Museum showcases ceramics and fibers from various places in Mexico.

 

LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, was considered the royal capital of the country until 1975, when Ventiane donned that mantle. Unlike many places in Laos, Luang Prabang has been consistently inhabited for thousands of years and was in 1995 designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Asia

Luang Prabang is seated in the heart of a mountainous region in Southeast Asia, surrounded by a lush peninsula. Its blend of urban architecture with that of the colonial era make it an aesthetic and interesting townscape, highlighting the effective juxtaposition and harmony of these two distinct cultural traditions. 

GET ACTIVE

With its stunning setting, Luang Prabang is the ideal place to get active. Options for mountain biking, road cycling, river rafting, and whitewater kayaking present themselves at every turn. If you prefer to enjoy the scenery at a more leisurely pace, you can't go wrong with trekking, for just a few hours or even for several days. You'll see majestic waterfalls, native flora and fauna, and most likely experience interactions with members of the Hmong tribe, who make their home in the hill villages, or the Khmu who are located in the lower regions of lush tropical jungle. 

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Asia

TEMPLE WALKING TOUR

Whether you hire a guide or tackle a self-guided tour, you won't regret visiting Luang Prabang's temples. These glittering mosaic-covered temples--known as wats and vats in Laos--are both impressive and other-worldly. With paper flags, sacred sand pagodas, monks praying, candles flickering, and incense burning, these historic temples represent the essence of sacred. Don't miss Wat Visou, Wat Souvanna Khiri, or Wat Xieng Thong.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Asia

EAT LIKE A LOCAL

Roasted chiles, galangal, roast garlic, lemon grass, basil, banana flower, kaffir lime, padaek (fermented fish sauce)...the flavors of Laos are irresistible. Elevate your senses through the local cuisine, beginning at the morning market. Located near the National Museum, the market is piled high with vegetables, fish, rice. Locals eat skewers of fish or crispy riverweed, but if you arrive at the market too early for street meat, look for vendors steaming up bite-sized coconut cakes served up in banana leaves. Laotian plantation-grown hot or cold coffee and a croissant (first introduced when Laos was part of French Indochine) serve as breakfast or a mid-morning snack.

Bronwen Jewelry Travel Asia

For lunch and dinner, you'll undoubtedly eat something involving sticky rice, which is traditionally eaten by hand. Laotians eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world, and when in Luang Prabang...

The most well-known Laotian dish is lapp, which is spicy marinated meat or fish wtih herbs, greens, and spices. The green papaya salad is divine and the nam khao (crispy rice salad with fermented pork sausage) features peanuts, coconut, mint, cilantro, lime, and fish sauce. Try sangkaya (Asian squash custard) or voon (coconut milk jelly) for dessert. 

ELEPHANT TOUR

Conscientious travelers avoid riding elephants these days, but these magnificent creatures can be viewed and even interacted with at several elephant sanctuaries near Luang Prabang. Protection and rehabilitation of elephants are paramount at these sanctuaries, and guests are offered a respectful way to connect with the animals. Responsible tourism helps fund the sanctuaries.

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry
Global Ambassador Chelsey Magness

by Ashley Lodato

One look at the radiant mud-spattered face of Bronwen Jewelry's newest Global Ambassador Chelsey Magness and you can see echoes of the little girl she once was, making dirt pies and building tree forts in the Alaska wilderness. But that's who she remains at heart, despite the intervening years, the recent motherhood, and the seminal events that have shaped her adult life. As an athlete and adventurer who has built her life and career around racing and hard-core sports, Chelsey has always been a gal whose heart beats faster and whose mind is sharper when she's pushing her limits, and that began with her early years in Anchorage.

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

"I think for many kids in Alaska," says Chelsey, "being outside was kind of the main activity, if not the only one. From when school got out until dinner we weren't allowed indoors; we were always told 'go outside.'" So play outside they did, Chelsey and all the other kids she knew. In the winter they dug tunnels and snow caves; in the summer they built tree houses and forts. And every weekend Chelsey went camping with her family, exploring Alaska's vast wild places.

"That was a real foundation for me," Chelsey says, "that time of exploring and running around and adventuring in the mountains." So when Chelsey got her driver's license, instead of motoring around to parties like many other high schoolers were doing, she loaded up her car with friends and went hiking and camping whenever she could. 

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

Chelsey dabbled in organized sports--Nordic skiing, cross country running, soccer--but says she did it more to be social than out of a real love of mainstream athletic competition. "When I had free time," she says, "I spent it out in the woods."

Chelsey's competitive side didn't really emerge until college, when she found herself lured to mountain bike racing by the promise of free food. "I was underage," she says, "but at the end of these mountain bike competitions all the racers got free beer and pizza. No one ever questioned my age." Chelsey was surprised to learn that she was actually a pretty decent mountain bike racer. Better than decent, even; she started appearing as a regular on the podium on the amateur racing circuit, and after just one year went professional.

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

When Chelsey met her husband, Jason (now her business/athletic partner as well as parenting and life partner), in Tucson a few years later, she was delighted to learn more about his passion: adventure racing. "Adventure races combined all of the components that I love to do," Chelsey says. "Mountain biking, whitewater, running, just being out there in the woods or backcountry." Jason and Chelsey entered an adventure race together on their 4th date and Chelsey found herself feeling anxious and excited at the start line. "I didn't know that feeling," she says. It was the feeling of wanting to win.

Chelsey and Jason ended up winning that adventure race, and many that followed it. Both are members of Bend Racing, a team that is currently ranked 13th in the world. In addition to shorter races, in the coming year they will be competing in the Telluride 100 mile mountain bike race in June and the elite Patagonia Expedition Race in November ("My soul race," says Chelsey, "I really peel back the onion layers on that one."). There is hardly a sport these two don't practice, and they balance (pun intended) all the fast-twitch athletic endeavors with acro-yoga, a partner activity that combines yoga and acrobatics.

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

A description of Chelsey's daily workouts coupled with a demanding travel schedule and grueling line-up of adventure races is enough to make anyone else feel exhausted. Add to this a 15-month-old in the house, and you begin to wonder how Chelsey is actually standing upright, let alone winning elite-level races. She's a bit of a modern-day Renaissance woman in this regard. Chelsey says that motherhood has caused her to become very efficient with fitting in her workouts and trainings, so that she can focus on being an awesome mom in the rest of her time. 

Meditation now plays a role in Chelsey's daily life as well, grounding her and giving her access to her inner self. Just over a year ago, Chelsey and her husband were preparing for the birth of their twin sons when their doctor gave them the heartbreaking news that the second twin no longer had a heartbeat. The first twin, Max, was born healthy and strong, but Spirit B, his brother, did not survive. After 24 hours with both beautiful babies, Chelsey and Jason faced the agonizing trauma of releasing their little boy into the spirit world. 

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

Chelsey says that her athletics and passion for outdoor exploration have been critical to helping her mourn. "Meditation and getting outside are my primary pillars in getting through my grief," she says. "I meditate every morning and speak to Spirit B." Sometimes Chelsey will see a hawk or a butterfly when she's communicating with her son, and this brings her peace. "When I heard stories like that from others who had lost loved ones, I thought it was grasping for signs," she says. "But now I realize that it's my story. Everyone has their own experiences and things they find healing. This is my story."

The sad irony, says Chelsey, is that during her pregnancy, she and Jason talked a lot about how they were going to handle life with twins. "Everyone told us it was going to be living hell for the first 3 years, dealing with 2 babies," she says. "So we talked extensively about how we were still going to support each other in following our passions." Although the birth of their boys and the death of Spirit B was unimaginably different than what Jason and Chelsey had planned, these talks about their values served them well in coping with their grief. "We knew we needed to get back outside," Chelsey says. "We needed to get back into the things that brought us joy, even in this time of sorrow."

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

Chelsey has found double solace in getting back outdoors, as it has become the place she feels most connected to Spirit B, who often comes to her during a tough workout or adventure race. "I speak to Spirit B when I'm outside," she says. 

Chelsey and Jason talk openly to Max about Spirit B as well. Every morning and evening they take Max outside and they all look up at the sky. "Good morning Spirit B," they say. "Goodnight Spirit B, we love you." Max shoots up his little hand and waves toward the sky, toward the brother whose body wrapped around his own for 9 months in the womb. 

Moments like this are painful, but also beautiful. That's what this journey of grief is like, says Chelsey. "We have the darkness with the light. We have to try to walk this beautiful path."

Photos of Chelsey often show her wearing one of Bronwen Jewelry's feather necklaces. (Although Bronwen Jewelry cannot currently source the Angeni Feather Necklace that Chelsey adores, we feature several other feather pendant options.) "When I was pregnant I had a turquoise feather and I wore it constantly," she says. "It was pretty and simple and comfortable. I didn't assign any special meaning to it." 

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

But when Chelsey lost the necklace on a highline, she found herself missing it immensely. So she reached out to Bronwen and acquired another feather, this one in lapis lazuli, a rich deep blue. "I touched the feather a lot throughout my pregnancy," she says. "It brought me peace." Chelsey didn't know that lapis has been long believed to have healing powers associated with the 3rd eye chakra, offering peace as well as openness to the spirit world; she just knew that when she touched the stone, she felt calmer. 

When Max was born, Chelsey says, he went straight to her feather. "He was always grabbing it," she says. The feather became significant to Chelsey through Spirit B as well. "When Spirit B passed," she says, "all these ideas came flooding in. I saw Spirit B in the form of a bird, specifically a hawk or a Steller's Jay. So the feather is related to the birds. The color blue, like the lapis and the sky--all these symbols became symbols of Spirit B for me."

On a practical as well as a spiritual level, the feather necklace works well for Chelsey. "I'm so active, my jewelry has to be light," she says. "It has to be simple. It has to be able to be worn for days or weeks on end. It has to get wet. Bronwen Jewelry is all that."

Chelsey Magness Bronwen Jewelry

Chelsey is the gal with exactly the lifestyle we envisioned when we designed our active jewelry. Mud? No problem. Sweat? Trivial. Grime? Just wear it in the shower.

Chelsey says she loves Bronwen Jewelry's aesthetic as much as she loves its functionality. "It fits with everything," she says. "I give Tiny Charm Necklaces as gifts to all the women in my life," she says, "and I see all these active women wearing them all the time, never taking them off."

"I'm really particular about what I put in my house and on my body," says Chelsey. "And Bronwen necklaces--I never take mine off, during slacklining, whitewater, these long races. They fit my lifestyle well."

And Chelsey's lifestyle fits Bronwen Jewelry well. Welcome, Chelsey! We're thrilled to have you on board as a Global Ambassador

Learn more about Chelsey, her races, her training and acro-yoga business, and her Mamas Retreats.

 

 

           
Posted in Blog By Bronwen Jewelry

Showing 1 to 10 of 52 results

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5