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Travel & Leisure
updated 1/13/2012 10:51:38 AM ET 2012-01-13T15:51:38

For me, a trip isn’t complete unless there is afterward something tiny and preferably sparkly in my possession. Of course, buying a new piece of jewelry is usually a wonderful experience, but when you go vintage, you are also purchasing a bit of that destination’s history, color, and character—and isn’t that what the best souvenirs are all about? Since I’ve embarked on this path, I have acquired a 19th-century bracelet from Paris decorated with the word SOUVENIR in gold script; a myriad of Victorian London lockets monogrammed for their long-departed owners; and a Grand Tour bracelet from Rome enhanced by minuscule micro-mosaics depicting views of the Eternal City. Another advantage: it’s usually possible to bargain even in the toniest vintage shops.

A number of antique jewelry stores line Spiegelgracht. You should window-shop at them all, and then stop in at Dekker Antiquairs(9 Spiegelgracht; 31-20/623-8992). It’s a favorite of model Lara Stone’s; she recently bought four pieces—including a Victorian diamond bracelet—in about as many minutes.

The Grand Bazaar’s winding passages have proved to be a challenge for centuries—be careful, or your path may be littered with attractive but worthless reproductions. To avoid this peril, head for Mavi Köşe(No. 11, Bedesten section; 90-212/519-0686), where Grace Kelly would shop for such items as rose-diamond drop earrings and vintage timepieces.

No trip to London is complete without a visit to Grays Antiques(58 Davies St. and 1-7 Davies Mews; 44-20/7629-7034), with two levels worth of dealers in the West End. Be sure to venture downstairs, where Jo Elton and Olly Gerrish sell glass serpents and Japanese agate bracelets.

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Amid the rough-and-tumble Diamond District, Steven Herdemian(78 W. 47th St.; 212/944-2534) is a haven of calm. His booth is laden with antique diamond rings; Herdemian can also suggest surprisingly affordable Art Nouveau brooches (from $350).

Dary’s(362 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr.; 33-1/42-60-95-23) is divided in two sections that have been enticing flaneurs since 1932. One features silver bracelets and paste brooches; the other, more rarefied—though not entirely out-of-reach—treasures, including a pair of mine-cut diamond pins for less than $700.

Indulge a taste for Midcentury works at Jacksons, where signed Scandinavian pieces like a circa-1974 silver Björn Weckström pendant are displayed next to Aalto furniture.

In contrast to San Fran’s bohemian side, the bauble-bedecked windows at Lang Antiques will transport you to a more elegant era. Though a 1929 Cartier diamond necklace might exceed the casual shopper’s budget, there are also turn-of-the-century silver stickpins and other less expensive treats.

Deep within the medina, Boutique Majid stocks historic indigenous furniture and objets d’art (armoires; birdcages) alongside oversize antique Berber jewelry. A huge silver hamsa hand dangles from a pendant, while amber and coral beads cry out to be worn layered.

Long before zombies and vampires cluttered the cultural landscape, Codognato(1295 San Marco; 39-041/522-5042) was specializing in magnificent jewelry with a vaguely sinister air. Rochas designer Marco Zanini sports one of its hard stone skull rings—it’s the envy of the fashion world.

Copyright © 2012 Amex

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