First Ladies' Jewelry Trends to Inspire Your Jewelry Making

I'm pleased to introduce you to the new First Lady (and editor) of Beadwork magazine, Mindy Brooks. I asked her to give me the scoop on her background.  Here's what she shared with me, "I've been a craft enthusiast from the time I learned to crochet when I was 8 years old. My grandmother taught me to make potholders using some sturdy, pink yarn, and, I tell you, those potholders were so thick they were probably bulletproof. Instead of scaring me off, however, learning to crochet piqued my interest in all kinds of handwork, including knitting, needlepoint, macrame, spinning, and weaving–you name it and I've probably tried it.

"When my family moved from Cincinnati to Milwaukee just over a decade ago, I had the chance to go to work for a local publisher, and for the first time, I could blend my passion for crafts with my interest in magazines–a dream combo for someone like me. In fact, I learned to bead and edit magazine articles at about the same time. Now, I get to enjoy that experience again as the editor of Beadwork, and at a very challenging, transformative, and exciting time in this industry. How cool is that!" Welcome Mindy!

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Don't we all love the stories of timeless jewelry passed down through history? Researching the First Ladies of our country has been fascinating. Almost all of them wore pearls. Single, double, and triple strands abound in the images I discovered. Here are a few jewelry trends and tidbits I thought you beady peeps might enjoy.

Mamie Eisenhower was famous for often wearing beautiful costume jewelry and even pieces from discount stores such as J.C. Penny's and Woolworth's.

Julia Grant most especially loved very green emeralds, very blue sapphires, and very red rubies. Ida Saxton McKinley was known to be a jewelry collector, most especially diamonds. Her father and grandfather had begun the habit of giving her diamond rings and bracelets. She also seemed to collect jewels that had not been cut or set in metal and kept them in a simple bag that she enjoyed giving to visiting children to play with! Wish I were one of those lucky kids!

Florence Harding always wore a thick black velvet neckband to cover her wrinkles (good thing to keep in mind for today's jewelry styles and the aging process!) and the Christmas following her husband's 1920 election, he gave her a large diamond sunburst chosen for him by her best friend the heiress Evalyn McLean, who owned the Hope Diamond. Mrs. Harding in her white diamond sunburst at her neck and Mrs. McLean with her legendary blue diamond at her neck often appeared together wearing these famous objects.

Julia Tyler wore a painted miniature of her husband, clasped at her throat. As First Lady, she also wore a pearl and diamond string of some kind as a "diadem" apparently a type of headband. You can actually see her wearing it in her official White House portrait.

The Grand Dame of Fashion and Jewelry

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Jackie Kennedy (Onassis) had the most classic sense of style and jewelry. Camrose & Kross is an American jeweler who has replicated Jackie's original jewelry pieces in the Jacqueline Kennedy Collection. I loved hearing about the stories behind the jewels and was pleased to hear many of the pieces were adorned with Swarovski crystals.

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Winter Crystal Pendant

The Bouvier family's history in the United States dates to 1815, when Michel Bouvier originally settled in Philadelphia. His son, John Bouvier, increased the fortune on Wall Street, where many Bouviers would leave their mark. Jackie's grandparents both lived at the peak of Bouvier wealth. This suite of jewelry, which Jackie wore for her debutante ball, where she was voted "Deb of the Year," was passed down to her through this great American family.

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Grand Tour Necklace

Unquestionably one of her favorite pieces, Jackie wore this unique seven-petal design necklace set everywhere; set with the finest Swarovski Austrian crystals and deep sea blue enamel. Jackie's mother, Janet Bouvier, had the enhancer added to allow her to clip the brooch to any necklace. She also had the art deco-style chain made to match the brooch.


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Lioness Necklace

Aristotle Onassis, who enjoyed giving Jackie Greek-style jewelry, presented his wife with this necklace in 1969. The necklace was placed on Jackie's breakfast tray one morning while the couple was sailing aboard Onassis's world-famous yacht, the Christina. Hmmm, better than oatmeal. Jewels, the breakfast of champions!

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Charm Bracelet

Like many teenagers, Jackie began a charm bracelet with some of her favorite charms. There is a  large round charm with the figure of Hercules on one side and the Latin words Non Sumptus Labora Est on the other. Apparently, when JFK once remarked to company on how hard Jackie had been working on his campaign, she replied with this Latin saying which means "labor is no cost." He later gave her the charm as thanks for her efforts, adding the tongue-in-cheek Hercules.

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Floating Pearls

Another favorite set of Jackie O's, this floating pearl bracelet looks as fashionable today as it did back in the 1960s.

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Triple Strand Pearls

Jackie wore triple-strand pearl sets frequently. You could slap this on and wear it tonight!

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Turquoise Necklace

In 1962, Jackie set off for India with her sister on an "unofficial" state visit where she wore this necklace/bracelet howlite stone set while greeted by throngs of citizens everywhere she went.

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The turquoise necklace is peeking out here as she's riding an elephant in India. True elegance!

Use Jackie, Julia, and  Mamie's fashionable trends as inspiration and take advantage of our 25% off eProjects sale. Infuse the First Ladies' sense of elegant style into your beading and jewelry-making projects today!

The best is yet to bead!


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