While participating in an outdoor adventure program, a member of the SNEWS® crew picked up some sage advice from the group leader: "Always wear a good piece of leather around your neck; you never know when it'll come in handy." On a windy day in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness, our editor—having run out of proper tent cord-- had to turn to his necklace to secure a flapping tarp, and the advice really sunk in.
While the Tarma Designs pendants our male testers have been wearing are made with a polyester cord rather than leather, they've proven to be plenty durable after months of use, including backpacking trips and running. OK, so maybe we don't always choose a piece of jewelry based on its ability to secure a shelter, but Tarma's necklaces are crafted to withstand lots of wear—and just as important, we think they look pretty cool too.
Tarma's ever-growing collection includes rectangular pendants featuring silhouettes of everything from well-known peaks such as Grand Teton and Mount Rainier to yogis in warrior pose to runners or bikers to simple rock cairns. The actual pendants are made of recycled stainless steel that has a sandblasted finish. For the popular Mountain Collection, the name of the mountain is engraved on one side of the piece. For all pieces, “Tarma" is engraved on the back side.
As with the pendant, the cord is intended to be eco-friendly. The Re-Ply polyester is made of recycled material, plus it won't fray or break under harsh conditions. Best of all, it won't deteriorate like a leather cord when subjected to sweat or other moisture. We've worn the pendants while swimming in rivers, running, at trade shows (talk about pressure sweating) and backpacking for several days, and have found that the cord dries quickly and looks good as new even after months of wear. It’s truly fashionable too – even if you don’t want to wear it sweating or swimming but just to show off your passion in a classy way.
The 20-inch cord has a strong, sewn loop, plus a clasp that's easy to adjust if you want to shorten the necklace. The clasp is easy-to-use, and we haven't had any problems with the necklace coming undone accidentally. The necklaces we've worn have had dark green cords, as well as light blue or violet, and you can purchase replacement cords in several other colors, including black, raspberry rose, sky, grass, periwinkle, eucalyptus, chocolate and slate.
Of course, you can't talk about jewelry without mentioning the aesthetics. And the main thing we like about this pendant is that it's something that a guy would also like to wear – not to slight the women who love theirs on our team. It’s just that there just aren't many companies in the outdoor market offering jewelry that appeals to guys. The pendants in the mountain collection – favorites of the male members of our team -- do not appear feminine, and the mountain silhouettes remind us of great days spent climbing these peaks. Images like running, biking, hiking or yoga send our minds spinning back to those good times too. Plus, frankly, we like sporting our passion for all to see and perhaps ask us about.
And while we like wearing Tarma pendants for their appearance or conversation-starting, we're confident they would serve us well should a strong wind send our last length of shelter cord flying off into a desert wash. Is this a strange way to think about jewelry? Well, maybe. Guess it's a guy thing.
SNEWS® Rating: 5.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $25; replacement cord $3.68 (bracelets, earrings and other designs on chains also available)
For information: www.tarmadesigns.com