Jewelry shopping in Curaçao

If your particular island fantasy is to open a little shop and sell baubles to the tourists, here’s an option for you at the south end of the Caribbean. (If you’d rather make art in lush isolation, see my last post.) Curaçao, tucked between Cuba and Venezuela, is a balmy 85° most of the year. You can see the Dutch influence in the colorful waterfront of Curaçao’s capital,  Willemstad, viewed from the pontoon bridge that connects the Otrobanda (where I stayed) and Punda districts:

This bridge swings open to let ships through Santa Anna Bay, then back again to allow foot traffic – which increases substantially when the mega-cruise ships stop off twice a day …

… releasing thousands of tourists into the historic streets of Willemstad in search of souvenirs:

Jewelry is a big favorite, judging from the variety of shops that line the streets of Punda:

Willemstad outpost of Effy Jewelry, chain founded in 1979 with stores throughout the Caribbean

Freeport, a family-owned jewelry store with six stores in Curacao

Here is the smallest jewelry shop I found, run by a young woman who sells jewelry made from organic materials, mostly carved seeds.

curacao jewelry gallery

By the way, I spotted an unfilled niche for rock-star skull jewelry, à la Célèbrités Gallery in Maui. There is obviously untapped potential here, given the taste for a good skull evident everywhere you look, from the tattoo parlors…

…. to popular dives like Jaanchie’s, where I tasted a local specialty, iguana (judging from this guy’s face, he tried it too):

… to this stone engraving on display at the oldest synagogue (in continuous use) in the Western Hemisphere, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, built in Punda in 1732:

Is that not the most fabulous depiction of a skull you’ve ever seen? Complete with phallic crossbones that resemble the coral you find washed up on the beaches of Curaçao. But then, I do love a good skull.

All photos are mine, © Cathleen McCarthy

Related posts:

Making art & jewelry on a Caribbean island

Carolyn Tyler: reinventing a life in Bali

Skulls in jewelry and watches

How to wear skulls like a rock star

How to wear jewelry like a rock star

5 comments for “Jewelry shopping in Curaçao

  1. March 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    You really captured the spirit of that neighborhood. Great piece! But how’d I miss that skull…?

  2. Cathleen McCarthy
    March 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    You mean the last one, right? Pretty sure we were both looking at that tablet, but you’re probably not as skull-obsessed. Very healthy of you!

  3. Patricia
    June 11, 2012 at 1:00 am

    We just visited the same small jewelry shop in Curaçao. I wish that I would have asked for the contact information from the shop owner. I purchased a bracelet but would love to talk to her about additional items. Did you get any contact info, shop name, etc? I would appreciate any help. Love your photos.

  4. Cura
    September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

    The jewelry you purchased is made in Colombia, and peru. Is probably not made by her. Look for tagua bead jewelry and you will find the same designs.

  5. CERG
    June 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Need to find antique caribbean conch pearl necklace strand or loose conch pearls from strobes gigs caribbean . please help with info or jewelry scans .
    Would appreciate purchasing venues while I travel. I DIDNT FIND A THING IN ARUBA.
    Thank you for you rind consideration in this matter

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