Memento: Andrea Yu

No matter where we travel to, there are things we take with us—or things we bring home to remember a place. That’s the purpose of this series: to learn about the #LojelCollective's favorite items or keepsakes, and the stories behind them.

I don’t often buy jewelry when I’m at home. But for some reason, I find it hard to resist the glint of a unique brooch or interesting gem while traveling—especially since I know it will take up minimal real estate in my carry-on. Vintage pieces catch my eye the most; they have such a distinctive look and I’m always drawn to the local characters who sell them with bravado.

While visiting a friend in Devon, England, we stopped by a few charity shops that she frequents; I spotted this pearl ring and took it home with me. Ironically, only after I returned to Toronto did I find an engraving in the ring’s interior marking its make and origin as Canada.

photo by Andrea Yu

Jutland, Denmark: I snapped this photo during a road trip across Denmark. Windmills are a dime a dozen in the country but this short succession in a field caught my eye. I love how the quality of the image makes it seem as if the photo is from a different era, much like the vintage jewelry I carry with me.

photo by Andrea Yu

Simple, delicate jewelry is my favorite. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing a piece until someone compliments the accessory and asks me where I got it. Sharing the story of where it’s from helps me to relive my experiences abroad, transporting me back to browsing the collections of streetside vendors in London, or roaming past a stoop sale in New York. It reminds me why I gravitate to unusual shops and boutiques instead of department stores: to get a truer sense of what a city is like.

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong: The smell of burning incense at the Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan can be overwhelming to some—but it pales in comparison to the visual impact of seeing dozens of these coils hanging from the ceiling.

photo by Andrea Yu

This was passed down to me from my mother, who was gifted the necklace by my grandfather in Hong Kong. I recently brought it back to Hong Kong when I attended a wedding—a fitting return for a beautiful piece of jewelry.

photo by Andrea Yu

North Point, Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s neon signs (many of which are decades old) are a hallmark of the city. Traditional Chinese characters come alive when they’re illuminated by the neon tubes at night.

photo by Andrea Yu

Once I return home, any trinkets I’ve acquired are placed in the jewelry box by my bedside, alongside other vintage mementos and items that have been passed down to me. I wear these pieces with the earrings and watches that complete my everyday look—and each time I put them on, I remember an adventure or a far-away destination.

photo by Tessa Wilson / @thewildflowerpress

I went to New York with a mission to purchase a bracelet from a notable jewelry brand, but my friend convinced me it was too trendy. Shortly after, we found this bangle at the Brooklyn Flea. I fell in love with its simple design and have been wearing it ever since.

photo by Andrea Yu

Brooklyn, New York: I often spend time in Brooklyn when visiting New York—I love stumbling upon stoop sales and going to the Brooklyn Flea on weekends.

photo by Thomas Van Der Vennet / @tvennet

Andrea Yu is a freelance journalist and travel writer. She has previously lived in Hong Kong and Copenhagen, but is currently based in her hometown of Toronto.

Written by: Andrea Yu