I’ve seen a lot of journals in my time, most created with the typical American approach to consumption: lovely enough to behold and write in, but pretty much intended as single-use repositories for our thoughts. So when CentralCrafts — a seller of bespoke, handcrafted products in U.K.’s Hertfordshire Countryside — approached me about reviewing one of their journals, I figured it would be pretty much what I’d become accustomed to.

My contact there suggested the Cortona Leather Bound Extra Large Journal and I selected the navy banded in tan, personalized with my initials in gold in the lower right hand corner. This is just one of many available dreamy personalised leather journals, by the way.

This handmade Italian beauty arrived last week, beautifully giftboxed and accompanied by a drawstring cotton bag. If this sounds more like I’m describing a Prada handbag than a journal, that’s no coincidence: The exquisite leather is from a top-grain hide called Spazzolato. That’s not a fancy term for too much coffee, that’s a perfect skin usually reserved for high-end designer handbags. Running your fingers over its smooth surface, you know that it will become even more gorgeous with the passage of time and use.

So if the typical American journal is Target, this is Bergdorf Goodman all the way. It’s hard to pick a favorite element. Would it be the carefully hand-sewn edging, meticulously contoured around the journal, or the creamy leaves of paper that fill it, also Italian and acid-free? I picked blank sheets, but lined pages are also available. Whether your medium of choice is Le Pen, fountain pen or pencil, your ideas will look their best here!

Oh, and when you’ve filled the pages up, take the European approach & just buy a refill to pop in & you’re good to go again. The personalization takes it over the top as an unforgettable gift or essential sidekick. Shipping to the US is reasonable — especially with a keepsake of this caliber! The biggest challenge is deciding which gorgeous shade to order — will it be the black, navy, ivory and brown?

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