by Ashley Lodato
Every year, various family members connected with Bronwen to embark on a week of whitewater bliss on the Salmon River in Idaho. Starry nights, sandy beaches, columnar basalt, songs around the campfire, and lots of tom-foolery characterize the trip. Oh, and jewelry. Because every person setting foot in a raft or on a stand up paddleboard sports at least one, if not two or more, pieces of Bronwen bling, either new or vintage.
Jewelry? On a trip where you're almost always wet, sweaty, sandy, or all three? Yes indeed. At first glance, a whitewater river trip is no place for jewelry. The chances of tarnishing, scratching, ripping, breaking, or flat-out losing a beloved necklace or bracelet are just too great.
But don’t hesitate to take a second glance, because so much of Bronwen Jewelry is so at home on sandy banks and frothy waves you might think it was designed as river-wear. And you’d be right. Because at Bronwen Jewelry, we know that you like to bring a little color, shimmer, and gleam along with you on your expeditions, and we had you and other river-runners in mind when we designed water-friendly pieces like our Tiny Charm necklace collection and our Swim Wrap line.
Our Tiny Charm necklaces are sweet and functional: lightweight yet strong and sweat/swim/sand friendly. You won’t notice them around your neck as you row, paddle, or swim through Snow Hole rapid, but they will certainly catch others’ eyes as they glint gold or silver against your skin. Tiny Charm necklaces are one of Bronwen’s most popular items and that’s no surprise, since they are perfect for water play and riverbank camping. They’re no-fuss, must-have pieces of active jewelry that look great and hold up admirably on river adventures both large and small.
And speaking of both large and small, our Tiny Charm necklaces are available in two lines: for women and our Petite B line for girls. Which is a good thing, because once those little girls see the big girls wearing jewelry and looking so tough rowing those rapids, they're going to want some of that pizzaz for themselves. So if you’re the Thai Diamond or Om Shanti type and your daughter likes Mermaids and Unicorns, you can both get your needs met with Tiny Charm necklaces. Or wear pendants of the natural elements or spirit animals you expect to see on your trip: Fawn, Bunny, Shooting Star, Luna.
When we’re on a river trip, we feel most like ourselves. Unencumbered by the small stresses of daily life, we are free to be our best selves. We’re interested and interesting. We’re patient, tolerant, generous. There are no to-do lists driving our agenda on the river, no emails to check, no bills to pay. We’re able to be the people we believe ourselves to be. We don’t worry about our matted hair or our grungy clothes; we embrace the simplicity river life imposes on us.
And yet…..something in us still yearns for a bit of sparkle and panache. So we clip on those Tiny Charm necklaces and enjoy the touch of femininity they give us. We’re not afraid to admit it—whether we’re raft guides or just friends out for a whitewater adventure, we can row the big waves of Bodacious Bounce and Half-and-Half rapids and haul river gear like a badass, but we still like to feel like the women we are: strong, confident, competent, and just the tiniest bit girly.
Our Swim Wrap bracelets are perfect for women who seek a bit of flair in their days on the river, but who need their jewelry not to get in the way of the oars or the stand up paddleboard. Created from excess fabric of Carve Designs swim suits, combined with decorative sterling silver, these soft active bracelets are fully adjustable and every bit as water-friendly as a swim suit. (And, in a pinch, they double as a really fun ponytail holder!) Wear the Swim Wraps alone, layered with an Active Bracelet like a Switchback Wrap or Waterweave, or simply stack as many vibrant, soft, comfortable Swim Wraps up your arm as you can fit! But be careful; these bracelets look so great you’ll find yourself watching your own wrists instead of the river ahead.
As anyone who has ever done a river trip knows, a veritable mountain of gear is involved. But jewelry takes up such a tiny amount of space in your dry bag, and gives you such pleasure, that you can pack it without a second thought. For the rest of your gear—your dry bags, PFDs, wet suits, SUPs—turn to the friendly folks at NRS, who have outfitted more than a handful of river runners with Bronwen Jewelry connections.
A week on a river reminds us of those times of unfettered freedom prior to kids and mortgages—those days of seemingly huge swaths of free time, of the discovery of wild places, and the people we could be in those places. Before and after river trips most of us are fairly mainstream adults. We’re parents and community members. We serve on nonprofit boards and volunteer at our kids’ schools. We are jewelry designers, freelance writers, small business owners. We’re fortunate; we all love what we do. What we do, however, is not who we are. Our jobs feed our families, but river expeditions feed our souls.
* Minor portions of this blog post were excerpted from an article previously written by the same author in Samata Magazine, Three Generations SUPing on the Salmon, V2N4, December 2015.