Tianzifang or 田子坊 in Shanghai, China houses a tiny square of art shops and Western restaurants that makes for a quaint walk or relaxed drink in the early evening. It’s near the French concession neighborhood at around Taikang Lu and between Ruijin and Sinan Lu. Although I have eaten here before (two places stick out, an amazing Thai restaurant and a fairly authentic version of New York-style pizza), I really prefer this area to window shop, people watch,and scavenger hunt for funky and distinct jewelry. The people always dress well and there are many different styles of art, clothing, and tattoo shops to choose from. The first two times I came here, it was around 10pm, already too late for most shops, and so hardly anything was open. But stepping into a small shop named l’Elegance, I decided it was worth coming back to for a gorgeous statement necklace I simply had to have. While traveling, one of my favorite activities to embark on is discovering outstanding jewelry pieces to add to my ever-growing collection. My top picks usually include necklaces and rings, although I’ve acquired a couple bracelets here and again. I don’t usually wear jewelry, so when I do, it has to exude some edge and a lot of presence. Most all my pieces do demand attention, since often I’m too shy to command it myself. A friend of mine, Jasper, once told me about this method in attraction called “peacock-ing,” and so I guess decorating myself is one way in which I execute this. You demand attention with something extraordinary that you wear in order to break the ice with your object of desire.
Also feels great when you’re at a party or lounge, and someone exclaims, “Wow, your necklace is so original, where did you get it?!” How snooty, but equally rewarding it feels to say, “Oh this old thing? In Shanghai, Paris, London, etc at this little shop…” and venture into a funny story about said shop hidden in some corner of the world that truly made an impact in your travels. Some people might not understand this, but I collect memories via material association. Now, I’m not saying it has to be expensive, but it does need to tie in with a good memory. Amongst some of my timeless pieces, pictured is this one here that I found in Tianzifang for 200 yuan (about 20 GBP or $32) at l’Elegance. It cascades down into many loops, and is made of a neutral color metal. I can wear with a plain black sweater or a patterned dress for a night on the town. I don’t always succeed at beautiful jewelry hunting either. Many times, an awesome piece of jewelry breaks shortly after I buy it, or I lose a special earring that I bought in a place I will most likely never step foot in again. Take for example this piece, I LOVE it, but you can actually smell the metal when you wear it. Not people around you, but because it sits right under your nose, it can be nauseating at times. Can’t win em’ all I guess. Anyway, if ever around Shanghai and looking for some cool standout jewelry is what you’re after, Tianzifang in Shanghai definitely fits that criteria. And if you see l’Elegance, have a look inside to see you if you can find a cool trinket that meets your needs. Click the photos above to see them in gallery format.