Where When How — March/April 2017
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Shopping
Sophie Newstead

AGENDA

Unique, locally made creations that fit your taste, memories and budget

IT’S AN UNDENIABLE TRUTH THAT HOLIDAYS AND SHOPPING go hand in hand. Access to worldly wares from afar, paired with a sense of freedom to indulge, embodies that age-old traveller’s want to take something home from a place that encapsulates both nostalgia and unique local craftsmanship. The unique selection of local goods inherent to a culture: fabrics, minerals, botanicals, and the consequent clothing, beauty, art and décor items that result from it, are great ways to retain a connection with a place long after you’ve left. So here’s a breakdown of local items in three general price brackets, to help find the right island sentiment for you.

A LITTLE SOMETHING TO TAKE AWAY

There’s nothing like a good trinket emblazoned with palm trees, nonchalant looking turtles and a stamp of the ‘Turks and Caicos Islands,’ to say you’ve been in the sun and sand. Small, little commitment on the price front and always a winner as a novel gift, it’s little surprise trinkets such as key rings, shot glasses, thimbles and fridge magnets are the most popular ‘keepsakes’ on the island. Small shells and coral, sand dollars and starfish are a few examples of inexpensive souvenirs. Other small and fun ways to take a little bit of the Turks and Caicos with you are bottle openers, lighters, spoons and beer cosies.

The festive period may seem far away, but with many Christmas trees baring decorations holding memories from different places, purchasing a locally made ornament holds a sentiment that can be relived year-on-year. Hand-painted glass and creations from hummingbirds to ceramic shells, are examples of Christmas wares that can be found year round in our galleries.

If you or your friends are golf-enthusiasts, the pro shop at Provo Golf Club has great quality polo shirts along with caps and logoed golf balls. While you’re here, it’s worth catching lunch or a drink with serene views of the greens from Fairways Bar & Grill, next to the shop.

FOTTAC (‘Flavours of the Turks and Caicos’) is the official one-stop shop for all your Caribbean culinary staples. The Bambarra rum cakes are local delicacies, with small ones going for around $8. Although not a permanent keepsake, they’re a delicious and easy way to bring a flavour of the TCI home with you. Bambarra rum, the national local spirit, is made in six varieties, ranging in price from $10 to $34. By way of condiments, a selection of Bambarra rum chutneys from papaya to mango, sauces from jerk, hot to BBQ, and spices from blackened, salted to jerk, make ideal cupboard fixtures for anyone looking to bring Caribbean flavours to their plates.

A LITTLE MORE

Whatever your objects of desire; jewellery, t-shirts, oils, bath stuff, cigars, pottery or art; TCI’s proximity to the surrounding waters means the ocean lies inspiration to, and the subject to the creation of, exquisite and locally made goods. Corals, shells, sea glass, and the minerals and textures sourced from such a flourishing marine environment, give anyone who’s a fan of striking blues, pearly pinks, sea and shell inspired patterns, as well as natural pampering products, plenty of selection to choose from.

There’s only one way to start the mid-range priced product breakdown, with the most local and symbolic item in the Turks and Caicos: The Queen conch shell. This has to be one of, if not the, most widely known and widely loved resource in the TCI. Its foothold in our culture is particularly prominent, due to Providenciales housing the only conch farm in the world, harvesting conch for its meat. The shell, the archetypal symbol of island life, is depicted on our national flag, with its variety in size, extravagant fan-shaped lip, and lustrous pearly pink inner shell making a stunning ornament for the house. A host of jewellery, spoons, trivets, and bowls made out of conch shell are available to purchase. Keep in mind that the Turks and Caicos is one of very few places in the world from where you can buy conch products to take home. You must have a receipt for customs when you arrive home, to prove you haven’t taken a shell from a restricted jurisdiction.

Sand jewellery, bracelets and necklaces are found in a variety of places on the island, and encapsulate a miniature paradise of small tiny shells, beach glass and seeds. Sand pearl bracelets are exquisite creations from local jeweller Wellington Williams, with a fascinating process in which sand is hand-rolled and solidified, resulting in waterproof beads that won’t crumble.

Atelys Adrian creates stunning handmade Larimar and silver jewellery, championing a shade of blue very popular to visitors seeking items resembling tropical colours. Pandora has a collection of five exclusively made Turks and Caicos charms for their bracelets, including pendants with a starfish, conch shell, and three different coloured Murano glass charms, all with ‘Turks and Caicos Islands’ engravings. Other island-nostalgic jewellery include the Alex and Ani Sealife collection of fine bangle bracelets, available in gold and silver finishes, and complete with a pendant depicting an aspect of island life, from mermaids to seahorses, anchors and lobsters.

The island really is a natural spa, with the ocean’s saltwater and even the country’s locally cultivated salt, making excellent pampering agents for our bodies. Salt from (surprisingly) Salt Cay, is coined ‘white gold’, and is used to make an array of products from bath salt, skincare exfoliants, and of course, a quality condiment for the dinner table. Products made from our local organic coconut oil span candles, soaps and moisturisers, so you have plenty of ways to enjoy this super food of the beauty world. Should you fancy a spa day, a comprehensive range of treatments is on offer, many using local ingredients, with treatment and aromatherapy products available to purchase.

A further resource utilised in the Turks and Caicos is fanner grass and straw, used traditionally to weave anything from sturdy baskets, to place mats and useful bags. For the art-lover, local artwork and photography champions many different styles and techniques depicting the beautiful blue hues of our island landscape. Every local artist’s interpretation is different, with many photographs showcasing stunning panoramics of beachscapes with dramatic skies, and paintings creatively interpreting the vivid shades of blue. A great visual keepsake to take home with you.

HIGH-END

Providenciales has some outstanding luxury goods to buy, with two clear perks of purchasing here. Firstly, items are tax and duty-free, and secondly, certain luxury goods are completely unique to the TCI, in particular, conch pearls. Extremely rare, only one in around 15,000 conchs produces a pearl, all unique in colour and size, and just 10 percent of these are sufficient quality. Many visitors come here just to purchase these sought-after jewels of the sea. Pearls are pink or salmon-pink in colour, and are available at select jewellery stores ranging from approximately $3,000 to $7,000. The selection at Jai’s features necklaces and rings, often paired with diamonds. Due to the pearl’s extreme fragility, the pearl is left largely in its purest form, resulting in stunning lustrous centrepieces for necklaces, rings and droplet earrings. Jai’s also offers a bespoke service for custom-made conch pearl jewellery.

Other popular gemstones on the island are aquamarines, turquoise, and blue topaz, a reminder of the fluorescent turquoise waters encapsulating our islands. Popular brands include Judith Ripka, Tacori and Ippolita. For watch-enthusiasts, Jai’s houses excellent collections from luxury brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Breitling and Bvlgari among others, with watches marking superb craftsmanship, in styles ranging from classic luxury to purpose-built sports watches.

Sea sage is a luxury line of clothing, swimwear, scarves, kaftans and pillows, featuring prints inspired by the natural surroundings of the Turks and Caicos. The innovative, striking designs take influence from sea fans, sunsets and conch shells, to banana patches, the ocean and palm trees. Brainchild of local designer Amy Brown, the line champions eye-catching creations that can be worn year-round, in multiple ways. You’ll find items from a multitude of local fashion designers on the island, representing many designs inspired through the creative eyes of our island’s artisans

PRICELESS

Wherever you go, whatever you do, bringing together loved ones for quality time on holiday is priceless, creating memories that hold a sentiment lasting far longer than a place can quantify. Providenciales is home to what is widely regarded as the best strip of beach in the world, so for that ultimate keepsake of the island, book in for a professional and fun family portrait with one of the most idyllic backdrops in the world.

THE LAST WORD

The highlights of nature here: ocean, sealife, sunsets, night sky and beaches, combined with materials abundant in a tropical landscape: sand, shells, coconut palms and sea glass, form not only inspiration for the island’s artisans, but unique final items that are reflective of the island’s culture and environment. With the age-old traveller’s ethos being to collect, find and take home worldly wares from afar, the goods here are perfect ways to encapsulate this corner of the world, loved and known to be ‘beautiful by nature.’
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