The prices in the shops along the Ponte Vecchio made my head hurt, so I struck out to the smaller alleys and discovered a jewel of an antique shop, where I became the proud new owner of a vintage, hammered, rose gold bracelet.

I love jewelry like this: not necessarily expensive or “fine,” but fun and meaningful. You can find the same type of lovely pieces in locally owned shops.

A great example? Shop Good (3 N.W. Ninth; 702-0517), where almost every piece in the space has a story, and each purchase benefits a local charity (it’s Sunbeam Family Services this year).

I’ve written about these before, but I still absolutely love the Falling Whistles necklaces, which give 100 percent of proceeds to war-affected kids in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place that really needs the help. The whistles (in gunmetal, matte or shiny silver) hang on long chains and have a tough-cool look.

I also loved the pretty, bright paper bead necklaces and earrings by Village of Hope, a micro-economic program that employs orphans in Uganda.

Local designer Green Couch Designs has a load of unique necklaces at Shop Good right now, many that combine circles of concrete with brass for an industrial look that is still very pretty. Also be sure to check out the long necklaces featuring a pendant made from bits of horse bridles.

In the Paseo, Kathy’s (2909 Paseo; 521-0055) collects a great variety of fun, bright jewelry. New to the cute boutique, check out the channel beads, which are smooth, crystal-bead necklaces that range in color and shape. I also liked the retro-cool sweater pins by Itsy Bitsy Lipzy. The pins are done as oversized safety pins in brass or matte silver and feature dangling charms.

Kathy’s has a lot of distinctive jewelry — everything from Western chic to Catholic iconography — so take your time looking around. And don’t leave without checking out the gorgeous natural stone and pendant necklaces by JSM Designs.

I also love the huge variety of earrings, bracelets and necklaces (and the prices) at French Cowgirl (4514 N. Western; 604-4696). From the super trendy (feather earrings!) to the party-ready (massive bright cocktail rings!), there is a lot to love here.

In particular, I kept eyeing the long brass necklaces by Marsha Anne that feature vintage found objects along with added charms and beads.

And you can’t pass up the leather cuffs — they’re bold while remaining delicate and are topped with large leather flowers. Look for rich colors like navy, goldenrod and burgundy.

Whatever look you go for, these pieces are an inexpensive, fun way to punch up summer-weary clothing.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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