In Iceland, lava jewelry is sold everywhere. I always linger and look at it, and then dismiss it as that little bit too expensive to buy. Having said that, it always seemed like it would be a good “typically Icelandic” souvenir that would also be easier for me to wear generally in daily life than a lopapeysa or my Icelandic wool scarf! So I had just about decided I was going to bite the bullet and get some on my most recent visit.
Then I saw an excellent tip from the I Heart Reykjavik site – that you can basically go to a craft store and buy the lava beads and then make your own earrings/necklace/whatever you want. And the beads are much cheaper to buy this way. I was really excited about this and actually did go and buy some beads after much deliberation in the craft store, they had so many of different sizes and shapes that I wanted to buy them all. I had no idea what other material I needed to actually make some necklaces out of these but thought I could sort that out at home anyway. I don’t really want to get into jewelry making – I can see it’s another creative outlet much like knitting that I might enjoy, but there is something a bit too teenage girl about it!
Anyway, I had a bit of a shock on my return home when the Grapevine ran this article – in an nutshell, although the jewelry you see states that it is made in Iceland, which it is, the lava is not Icelandic! In a country covered by lava, this is lava that is imported from other countries. In fact, the Icelandic lava is too soft to be worked with and made into the types of beads that you see for sale. This also applies to the ones I bought.
I had always assumed that this was Icelandic lava jewelry, and in fact it isn’t. It’s taken the fun out of making my own now. Am I just being silly and does it matter given that they are still lava beads that I bought in Iceland? It’s probably the only time I’ve felt a bit ripped off as a tourist in Iceland which isn’t something I am used to there.
If you want to buy lava jewelry, I’d still recommend buying the beads rather than something already made up and then design your own at home. I will post photos if I ever make anything out of what I bought?
Have you ever been ripped off as a tourist?