Friday, May 22, 2015

How to be a smart shopper in Peru

All over Peru we have visited markets where the storeowners will try to sell us 100% baby alpaca products or 95% silver jewelry. However, they are not always telling the truth. Luckily in Pisac, owners of a traditional store taught us how to tell if something is a handmade 100% baby alpaca product and if something is made out of 95% silver. To show us this, the storeowner first held up a real 100% baby alpaca sweater and told us the following:
100% baby alpaca products should:
     1)   Feel soft
     2)   Feel lightweight
     3)   Look the same on the inside as they do on the outside
     4)   Not feel itchy

She then held up a synthetic or fake alpaca sweater and told us that synthetic products will feel rough, heavy, have messy seems on the inside, and feel itchy on the inside. She then passed around both sweaters, and everyone could immediately tell the difference. Next, she took us over to the silver section of the store. She held up two different pieces of jewelry: one that was very shiny and one that was a little dull. She asked us to raise our hand if we thought that the shiny one was real silver, and then she asked us to raise our hand if we thought that the dull one was real silver. Most of us raised our hands for the shiny piece of jewelry and as a jewelry lover, I was sure that we were right. However, to our surprise, the piece of jewelry that was a little dull was real silver. She then held up another piece of jewelry that was very dull and had a yellowish tint and explained that the shiny piece of jewelry would look like the yellowish piece of jewelry after it had been worn for a while. We were all shocked that something so shiny could turn out to look so dirty. We thanked the storeowners for their lesson and shopped around the store for our family and friends. We then continued shopping at the different tents in the market and we felt proud when we could distinguish between real and fake silver or authentic and synthetic alpaca products. 

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