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Monica Vinader reveals the cities that inspired her jewelry designs

The designer loves to hunt for treasures in local markets (Photo: Rex /

The world’s leading jewelry designer is famous for her intricate and elegant pieces, beloved by celebrities from Hailey Bieber to Phoebe Dynevor.

But his greatest inspirations come from his travels around the world.

She saw spooky creatures in Mexico, slept under the stars in Belize, and explored the arty boutiques of Florence.

We caught up with her about her most inspiring experiences on the road.

What’s your favorite moment on the road?

The road in Patagonia.  Mount Fitz Roy at dawn.  Argentina.  Mount Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

The great outdoors of Patagonia are perfect for an impressive road trip (Photo: Getty Images)

Driving through southern Patagonia with my husband. It is an extraordinary and vast landscape – it was incredibly pioneering, a real adventure.

It is a real gaucho country and we would sometimes drive for hours without seeing a single person or car.

We have traveled as far south as the city of Ushuaia, crossing the Strait of Magellan, where the landscape is incredibly arid. It is made up mostly of empty spaces, punctuated by glaciers and snow-capped mountains, and has the most beautiful rivers full of sea trout.

We’ve spent a lot of time fly fishing in these rivers – if you’ve read the work of travel writer Bruce Chatwin, it all makes sense.

And your favorite city?

Florence, Italy, October 23, 2015: interiors and architectural details of the Brancacci Chapel on October 23, 2015 in Florence, Italy

Florence is an ‘endless source of inspiration,’ says Monica (Photo: Getty Images)

Probably Florence – I lived and studied there when I was younger, and I go back there often so I know my way well and I feel right at home.

Even so, every time I visit I discover something new – great food, amazing crafts – and culturally it’s a never-ending source of inspiration.

I always make a pilgrimage to the Brancacci Chapel to see the frescoes by Masaccio. These are must-sees and some of his most famous works.

I follow up with a lunch at Cibrèo (main course from £ 13). The last time I was there was over New Years Eve and I stayed at The Place Firenze (rooms from £ 352) which is a large, stylish townhouse – I had the feeling like staying with a super stylish old friend.

Shopping is also great for amazing handcrafted pieces. I always stock up on leather gloves from shops in Via Por Santa Maria and visit a craft store called Studio Puck on Via Santo Spirito for amazing prints, as well as a porcelain factory called Ginori 1735 – my favorite collection is the Oriente Italiano and their shop in Via Dei Rondinelli is always very tempting.

What keeps you sane on the road?

Great music and lots of maps and guides – I love a map and I really enjoy exploring the next destination and thinking about what to see, visit, do, so that you don’t miss a thing.

When were you most afraid while traveling?

While in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere near Tulum, Mexico, I had a few encounters with large creepy crawlers, scorpions, and large spiders – and I have a huge fear of spiders. But the worst part was when I found a huge boa constrictor in our shower. I was pretty panicked.

What is the best memory you came home with?

So many beautiful things over the years. I love to shop at all the local markets and antique shops everywhere I go.

But the best are pebbles and boulders collected from beaches and rivers – I have a huge collection of them and always bring them back from so many trips.

What was the most life-changing moment while traveling?

Indian women carrying water from stepwell near Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.  Women and children often travel long distances to bring back jugs of water which they carry on their heads.

The semi-precious stones for Monica’s jewelry are cut in Jaipur, India (Photo: Getty Images)

Travel to India. It is such an inspiring country but also full of contradictions – it brings out very strong emotions. I have been traveling there for years for work, looking for gems, and still find it to be the most fascinating place.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time in Jaipur in particular where we cut all of our semi precious stones. There are so many wonderful and inspiring things going on there and working with the artisans is amazing.

But there is also a lot of poverty and children in need. I have been involved in an amazing charity called the Jagriti Foundation, which creates schools and now supports 12 schools in total, helping over 2,400 children. It was a great time to be able to support them and see the progress they have made.

What’s the worst meal you’ve eaten abroad?

Chapulines in Mexico City – these are small roasted grasshoppers. It’s a local specialty but with my fear of creepy-crawlies it wasn’t great. Everyone seemed to like them.

What’s the strangest place you’ve spent the night?

Perhaps not strange but certainly the most amazing: a small deserted island off the coast of Belize. We were dropped off with some food and water and camped under the stars. It was very Robinson Crusoe.

Where do you hope to go next?

Wherever it takes me! I seriously miss travel. I hope to get to Menorca before the end of the season and then, as soon as possible, I want to return to Mexico.

Monica Vinader’s new collection, Monica x Doina, includes ten vintage-inspired pieces crafted from 100% recycled gold vermeil and sterling silver. From £ 60,

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