I recently returned from a ten-day sailing trip around the Secret Island of Culebra, off the coast of Puerto Rico. Living aboard a sailboat reminded me of my love for nautical charts—the fluid lines, soft, sea-foamy color palette, and wiry, spare typeface lend an on-trend heritage feel to the handsome utilitarian scrolls. How smart was it, then, that Portland, Maine–based jeweler Charlotte Leavitt dreamed up the idea of custom-crafting various pieces (pendants, earrings, cufflinks, even belt buckles) making use of nautical charts? Childhood summers spent aboard her family’s daysailer in coastal Castine instilled in the formerly desk-bound jewelry hobbyist a similar appreciation for the art of the chart.
When a friend requested she craft a commemorative charm for her wedding, Charlotte had her “aha!” moment: to make pieces that glorify your place, not hers. And so CHART metalworks was born. You pick the spot, be it Culebra’s south shore or, say, the Vatican (her most far-out request, from a woman whose daughter is a docent at one of the holy sites’ museums) and Charlotte sources a specific chart or map of your desired locale then sets it in resin and your choice of sterling silver or bronze.
For the frequent traveler, Charlotte suggests the charm bracelet. Start with one pendant of a special location, then—quite literally—add as you go.
I'm not much of a souvenir girl, but I am truly charmed by the concept of memorializing a great visit with an artfully displayed cartographic image. And it's not just for the frequent traveler, but also a wonderful way to honor the place you call home.
Charlotte even gets clients asking for pieces of the spot they hope to retire, or long to visit, to serve as a daily reminder of their migratory ambition. For me, it was the perfect way to commemorate my trip to Culebra, after which I commissioned Charlotte to make a pair of cufflinks for my boyfriend, a serious sailor and my travel companion—only the beginning, I hope, of a growing collection of CHART metalworks mini-map mementos.
Sarah Storms is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.