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A great thanks to those of you who joined us for the Pearl Society’s presentation of “Presidential Pearls” led by Rebecca Head! To those of you who were unable to attend, but who still love to look at pretty presidential pearl pictures, you’re in luck: read on to be regaled regarding one of the highlights of the occasion: The Van Buren Pearls.
Angelica Singleton Van Buren held the title of First Lady of the United States from 1839–1841, and was the youngest woman to ever to do so at 20 years old. She was not actually married to President Van Buren (a relief–the age difference would have been 35 years) but to his son, Abraham. Van Buren actually remained single throughout his presidency, his wife having died of consumption. This allowed his daughter-in-law to become the recipient of some rather princely gifts: according to the Smithsonian, “after Van Buren established the first U.S. consulate in an Arab Gulf State, the Sultan of Muskat and Oman responded generously. Among his 1840 gifts were a number of luxurious cashmere shawls... along with pearls, carpets, perfumes and Arabian horses. Legend has it that he even presented several lions to honor America, which were briefly held at the American consulate.”
The pearls included in the abundant offering, though currently ‘missing in action,’ have been described by Kunz (author of “the Book of the Pearl” and namesake of Kunzite) as having “consisted of two pendant pearls each weighing about 30 grains, and a necklace containing 148 pearls with an aggregate weight of 700 grains. The pearls were actually presented as a collection of loose pearls in a gift box, by the Sultan of Oman, and later fashioned into a necklace and pendants, probably in New York.” It is highly convenient that the description of the pearls seem to so well match the pearls worn by Van Buren in her official portrait!
Sadly, the actual size, luster, and other details of the pearls are unknown, though the pearls did reside at the Smithsonian Institution before this was even its' name. The origin of the pearls, however, is known: the Persian Gulf. Today these are known as “oriental pearls,” and would have been some of the most lovely that the Sultan could have offered. To get a taste of what these pearls would have looked like up close, stop by the gallery to see an example from her fabulous collection!
Soon-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May has not even ascended the metaphorical throne of England yet, and already she has joined the ranks of the great pearl-wearers in politics. Margaret Thatcher, the only other 'madame' minister in the history of the United Kingdom, was regularly seen sporting any number of impressive pearl necklaces, earrings, or pins with a classic and conservative flair fitting for any head of state...be they elected, born, or married into the role. Truly, on any head of state, these gems positively glow in the spotlight.
May has been spotted wearing a multi-toned strand of the lustrous gems, likely Chinese pearls, which were carried off with proper aplomb...and which we suspect wouldn't have looked quite so natural on David Cameron, anyway. Hopefully this is the beginning of many more pearl sightings in the presses coming from across the pond!
Please join us on Sunday, March 20, 2016 for a special Pearl Society meeting – "Collector's Circle: A Peek into the Jewelry Box" from 3pm to 5pm at the Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio, 623 Grove Street in Evanston, IL.
Gem aficionados and enthusiasts alike are invited to come and take a peek into the private jewelry treasures of a few selected collectors. Hear the stories behind each glittering acquisition, learn what sparked their passions, and discover all the juicy details at this exclusive event. There may also be other interesting surprises – you won't want to miss this exciting event!
Please RSVP by calling 847-869-7920 or Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments will be provided! Please RSVP soon – space is limited
UPDATE, 2-28-15: Nyong'o's dress has been reported RETURNED by the thief who, according to a tip called into TMZ, removed two pearls from the stolen dress and had them tested in the L.A. Garment district, whereupon they learned that the pearls were "not real." The dress was found in a garment bag hidden in a trash bag, back in the actress' original hotel.
UPDATE, 2-26-15: In a hair-raising turn of events, Lupita Nyong'o's famous pearl gown was reported stolen late Wednesday evening, on February 25, 2015 from the actress' hotel room. The dress is estimated to cost appx. $150,000, and will likely either be held for ransom, or sold on the black market.
If you didn't watch the Oscars last Sunday night, you may not know who won each category, but that doesn't mean that you have to go on without knowing who turned the most heads! Lupita Nyong’o, winner of last year’s Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actress" in the film 12 Years a Slave, has been proclaimed this year’s “Best Dressed” by the popular vote.
Not one to shy away from making waves, Lupita graced the red carpet last year in a grand, Cinderella-like blue gown of “Nairobi blue.” This year, she caused an equally significant splash in her outstanding custom Calvin Klein dress, designed by old favorite Francisco Costa. “From the onset, I wanted the dress to be graphic, yet warm and luxurious,” Costa said. He began with a base of luxurious tulle and lamé fabrics, and then systematically–and carefully–went on to apply a mesmerizing mermaidly design of no less than 6,000 pearls.
“We looked at a variety of different pearls—South Sea, iridescent, and natural—and decided that the natural pearls looked the most beautiful.” And we certainly agree! Costa’s team didn’t stop until they had assembled five variations of pearl sizes, all of which were hand sewn onto the gown...And because the devil’s in the details, it would be unforgivable not to mention Nyong’o’s stunning Nicholas Kirkwood slingbacks, which were an “obvious choice” according to Costa, and which are also, happily, pearl-encrusted peeptoes.
The Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio and The Pearl Society cordially invite you to join us on a private, guided tour of the Driehaus Museum and their new exhibit "Maker & Muse: Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry" featuring an array of unique pearls and other gems. The tour will be followed by a brief Q&A.
When: Sunday March 8, 2015 at 10:30 am
Where: The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 East Erie Street, Chicago
Parking is available for $14.00/car with museum validation at ROW Self-Park, 50 East Ohio, Chicago
Reserve your place now as space is limited to only 15 lucky attendees! Call 847-869-7920 to pay by credit card, or stop by the Gallery to pay in person. Private tour cost is $21.00 per person (non-refundable) which is required at the time you reserve your place.
About the Exhibit:
Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry features more than 250 exemplary works of art jewelry between the Victorian Era and the First World War, including cloak clasps, hair ornaments, pins, brooches, rings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, and several tiaras. This groundbreaking exhibition illuminates the international proliferation of art jewelry through the lens of woman as its maker and muse. For the first time during this period, women emerged as prominent jewelry makers in their own right, establishing independent studios amid changing social norms. In other regions, the female figure acted as a powerful muse, appearing in jewelry as audacious and novel motifs.
Drawn from the Driehaus Collection’s extensive jewelry holdings and prominent national collections, many of these stunning pieces have never been seen by the public. The exhibition upholds the same ideals of beauty as did its makers, who in the early decades of the twentieth century were inspired by broader art movements of the day to create audacious pieces of jewelry with dramatic forms, intricate craftsmanship, saturated colors, and semiprecious stones.
Maker & Muse explores five different areas of jewelry design and fabrication: the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, Art Nouveau in France, Jugendstil in Germany and Austria, Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York, and American Arts and Crafts in Chicago. Each section explores the important female figures and historic social milieu associated with these movements, and is accompanied by historic photographs and immersive decorative arts of the period, including furnishings, posters, and stained glass.
They say that if you put your ear up to a seashell, you can hear the ocean rumbling within...But what happens when you listen to a pearl?
You may not hear the ocean, but the Galatea company (the “original creator of carved pearls,” as their website proudly boasts) may be onto something with the latest in pearl innovation. Imagine receiving the gift of a lovely pearl pendant from a loved one, simply touching the pearl to your cell phone or a nearby speaker, then hearing the voice of that person telling you they love you?
Using breakthrough technology, this has now become a reality for jewelry. A company known for thinking outside the shell when it comes to pearls, Galatea has engineered a series of miniscule NFC (near field communication) microchips which can be implanted into the heart of a pearl, invisible from the outside, while being securely held in place within the pearl. These chips need no battery, as they run on induction energy.
In order to begin, one would need simply to record a meaningful phrase, a “Happy Birthday,” or any number of sounds...in fact, why stop at sound? These magnificent little cards can also hold images, messages, or meaningful videos, effectively making them the world’s most high-tech lockets. In order to “unlock” the message, the recipient would simply need to download the proper application to their phone or device, touch it to the pearl (or gem), and the data would transfer automatically...because, after all, who could tolerate a USB plug coming out of their jewelry?
Despite the impressive variety of media this technology is capable of transmitting, Galatea insists they are trying to inspire the idea that a pearl can carry the voice of a loved one...And yet, now that the technology is available, it will be an utterly fascinating journey to see if the trend takes hold. Could this usher in a whole new age of functionality, as well as sentimentality, in the gift-giving world? Will our children give and receive strands of pearls, each pearl with a different, special memory cleverly hidden within? Only time will tell.
Cinderella and her fairy godmother were clearly dreaming too small when they settled on glass heels. A trend of pearl-encrusted footwear has swept the nation's imagination, with options ranging from the flea market to the red carpet, and appearing on such notable celebrity toes as those of Lady Gaga with her towering, lustrous stilettos from the sea which she wore to Glamour Magazine's annual Women of the Year Awards.
On the oppsite end of the style spectrum, quirky fashion icon and actress Zooey Deschanel has been spotted gracing a similar red carpet, only in a slightly more demure set of heels. Deschanel has chosen a more delicate route, with heels that have merely been enhanced by tiny pearls rather than appearing to have been wholly constructed of them.
Famed fashionista Kim Kardashian has also been seen rocking an alternate version of this trend in her gladiator-inspired sandal-boot-heels, like some kind of warrior sea goddess. This daring pair was designed in tandem by designer Giuseppe Zanotti and rapper Kanye West, Kardashian's husband.
In fact, there is a rather significant trend of fancy footwear being graced by pearly accentuation available on the market today, ranging from a shimmery strap of adornment to the restrained look of just a few fine pearl drops dangling from a selected spot of pride.
It may be true that very few of these looks are likely to feature actual pearls, but in case you are one of the few bold and daring minds who might don your keshis or akoyas in a slightly more imaginative way, here are just a few tips to protect your pearls: beware of corners and sharp objects, keep away from any sort of chemical that could damage the nacre, or natural luster, of your pearls...and above all, do not select heels so tall that you cannot chase down any stray pearls in the disaster scenario of having one (or several) break loose and roll away.
It's true: these, and a hundred other iterations now exist of pearl-bedecked footwear, ranging from the casual and daily to the extreme and avant garde...What pearly personality will you adopt with your shoes?
In what’s been dubbed “The Kate Effect,” the former Kate Middleton and Duchess of Cambridge has been making tsunami-sized waves as a trendsetting phenomenon wherever she goes. Entire websites have appeared, including WhatKateWore.com, to chronicle her every ensemble and jewelry item, so that fans can go out and immediately purchase the exact same items en masse. And purchase they do: items have sold out in mere hours after being spotted on the Duchess.
Her apparent fondness for pearls has thusly affected, in no small portion, the pearl buying market. Pearls are a well-known staple of Buckingham Palace, championed previously as a signature style of the reigning Queen Elizabeth II. Kate has appropriately taken up the torch, but has put her own fresh and modern spin on the look...and thus was born a new generation of pearl enthusiasts.
Perhaps most notably, Kate has commonly been seen donning a pair of baroque pearl earring drops by Annoushka; a pair that was recently seen on her during her first appearance back in the social sphere following the announcement of her second pregnancy following the royal babe George. Only months before, she was seen sporting her Annoushka pearls during her diplomatic jaunt to the South Pacific with Prince William.
It’s a well-known fact that she is in the habit of supporting local merchants and businesses while in foreign countries, and her stay in New Zealand was no exception. She gave local design company Tory & Ko an unexpected boost by acquiring four items that involved approximately £3,000 worth of diamonds and pearls. One pair of earrings that she bought feature a large cultured pearl worth £1,500 alone.
“We really can’t believe it, it’s a real honor” says Kristin O’Brien from Tory and Ko. The number of visits accumulated by the company’s website have increased exponentially since her visit, thanks to the great success of “The Kate Effect,” and we see that this trend of trendsetting has only just begun for her. What will Kate wear next, we wonder?
Sunday, August 17 from 3pm to 5pm
Come view pearls and other gemstones outfitted like you've never seen them before! Local artist Sandra Wilcoxon will be at The Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio this August 17 to present her many astonishing works. She has created pearl-encrusted and bedazzled structures of all types, ranging from gilded chicken skulls to art necklaces to an entire stole woven from wire and mink elements. Come to learn more about the different causes and cultural statements that her many artworks investigate.
At least 20% of all proceeds from her pieces go towards the causes that she champions, both locally and as far abroad as Tanzania and China.
Please reserve now! Call 847-869-7920 or e-mail Eve at email@example.com
Refreshments will be served.
To view more of Wilcoxon's work, visit her website at pearlsforgood.com