This beautiful jewellery story is shared by my friend and fellow jeweller, Amy Ambroult. Amy makes unique jewellery pieces that feel like they have a past and immediately make you want to wear them on your body in the present.
The street dogs woke me up shortly before my alarm. It was long before the sun came up, but that was the point of the day, after all. I was in Darjeeling, India, and waking in the dark to catch a ride to see the sun rise from behind Mount Everest. I had hardly slept that night with my jittery excitement. I tried to imagine the majesty of what I was about to see. Oh, the photos I would take! The description I would write in my journal! This would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. A story to tell my kids and grand kids.We bounced our way up questionable mountain roads and arrived at a remote lookout high in the Himalayas.
It was cold and windy and we were greeted by women selling chai out of thermoses. We drank it and waited for the sunrise. More and more tourists arrived on the small platform, and so did more and more vendors. They sold food, small wooden souvenirs, postcards of images of the sun peeking out behind the huge mountain, and lots of jewelry. Finally the light came, but only revealed a dense fog. We could see nothing, not even the silhouette of the great mountains beyond. The sun was surely rising as it always does but, alas, it was not in our cards to see its glory that morning.
That excursion was not a total wash, though. It did reveal many beautiful things (inspiring dawn light show notwithstanding). The brightening gray glowed on the colorful trinkets and beautifully detailed crafts that the locals brought. I poured through the jewelry, asking questions and learning that the man who sold it was not the maker, his father-in-law was, and he made his living by coming here every morning to sell to the tourists who flock to watch the sunrise. It wasn’t until after I had paid for the goods that he leaned in and whispered that it is foggy there more mornings than not. He was saying, in so few words, that what we had signed ourselves up for was basically a pre-dawn, high altitude craft bazaar. Fair enough, I thought, chuckling to myself.
I gifted most of the pieces I bought that morning, but saved this bracelet for myself. To be honest, I never wear it anymore –it’s a bit scratchy on the inside, but I keep it to remind me of that trip. When I dig around my jewelry box inevitably I pull that bracelet out and recall the cool mountain air, the excitement, the mystique of those mountains, the man whose face I can still see, and the story of that piece.
I may not have had the enlightening experience of watching day break from behind the lofty peaks, nor do I have the picture to paint of the rainbow of colors that sunrise might have revealed that day. What I have is a bracelet — rough, heavy, imperfect, aged, and more precious to me than a fading memory of dawn on the tallest mountain.