Black Beauty

Though often used as a synonym for black, "jet" refers to a type of semi-precious stone formed from coal derived from fossilized driftwood. The finest jet came from Whitby, on the northeast coast of England, and could be polished to a smooth,... Read Article ››

Hairwork diadem

  Diadem 1875-1900 Bolognese & Son, Jeweler Gift of Andrea Tice in memory of Carmelita Johnson 2008.46.278AB This diadem of human hair ornamented with gold and semiprecious stones appears to be a one-of-a-kind accessory. Such a unique headpiece was... Read Article ››

Love-cuffs, 1955

Chatelaine Pin 1955 Gold-plated metal Gift of Jimmie Romero in memory of Christie Romero 2012.943.28AB This Love-Cuffs chatelaine pin was but one item in a line of “solid gold look” hand-cuff themed jewelry manufactured by Alice Jewelry of... Read Article ››

Bakelite cherry brooch, late 1930s

   Cherry and log brooch c. 1935-1940 Gift of Steven Porterfield 2010.897.49 Can you imagine a world without plastic? Overwhelmingly ubiquitous today, plastic has been in existence for less than 200 years. Prior to the last quarter of the 19th... Read Article ››

Monies jewelry

  BraceletsMother of pearlMonies 1990-2000Gift of The Muriel Pollia Foundation 2006.868.9A-C Since the early 1970s, Gerda and Nikolai Monies have used fossils, petrified wood, animal bone, seeds, beach stones, jute and other organic materials to... Read Article ››

Donna Karan and Robert Lee Morris

  Donna Karan's first solo collection, presented in spring 1985, was an immediate success. According to a fashion editor who attended the presentation, "pandemonium broke loose after the last three models appeared."1 Consisting of layered,... Read Article ››

Hairwork jewelry

  "As the hair is the only part of our beloved friends which can be kept in memoriam, it is natural that we should desire to preserve the treasure in some manner that will testify our appreciation of its value..." -Ladies' Fancy... Read Article ››

Versace skull jewelry

  For the past few years, skulls have been everywhere, appearing as a motif on hand-knit sweaters, contemporary art, runway fashion, fast fashion and housewares. Despite their current incarnation as overused icon, the skull motif has weighty symbolic... Read Article ››

Kenneth Jay Lane starburst brooch, c. 1968

  The term costume jewelry came into use in the early 20th century, probably in the mid-1920s. Prior to the 1920s, jewelry had a dual purpose: adornment and as a vehicle for displaying personal or familial wealth. Though glass paste gemstones and... Read Article ››