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Jewellery with a message

Articles / February 2021

Madeleine Albright is an American politician and diplomat who served as the first female United States Secretary of State in U.S. history from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. She is known for wearing brooches and pins as a visual way to express her moods, opinions, to deliver a message and even to inject humour into a situation.
This apparently started in 1994 when Saddam Hussein called her a serpent when she was an ambassador at the United Nations (UN). From then on when dealing with Iraq she wore her antique snake pin to send a message.

Figure 1 & 2 Unknown designer (USA) c.1860

She is quoted with saying “As it turned out, there were just a lot of occasions to either commemorate a particular event or signal how I felt,”
This she demonstrated well by wearing balloons, butterflies and flowers to signify optimism and crabs and turtles to indicate frustration. When she had to deliver a tough message and a little stinging, she wore a wasp as seen here in Figure 3. with Yasser Arafat.

Figure 3. Bee, Unknown designer .1980

Figure 4. Black and white turtle, Lea Stein (France) c1990, Small purple black and gold turtle, Isabel Canovas (France) C1980, Black and brown rhinestone turtles, designer unknown (USA) c1997, small blue rhinestone turtle, designer unknown (USA) c1998, Red turtle, designer unknown c1997 – used to signify the slow process of the middle east agreement.

Figure 5. Swarovski (Austria) c1992 worn to show optimism.

When it was found that the Russians had planted a listening device—a “bug”—into a conference room near her office in the State Department, the next time she saw the Russians, Secretary of State Albrecht wore this huge bug. They got the message.

Figure 6. Bug, Iradj Moini (USA) c1997

As it was becoming known about her messages in the pins, she wore she recalls the Russian leader Vladimir Putin telling President Clinton that he knew the mood of the meeting by looking at Albrights left shoulder – this time she was wearing her three monkeys pin which meant that Russia had a hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil stance on the Chechen atrocities.

Figure 7. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil Iradj Moini (USA) c2000

Figure 8. Secretary of State Diamond Eagle, designer unknown (France) c1890

It said that this pin almost caused her some embarrassment during her swearing in ceremony as Secretary of State as it had a complicated clasp mechanism which she did not fasten properly and during the ceremony she looked down to see it dangling from her shoulder, she thought it would fall into the bible.
As we can see from a very select few of US Former Secretary of State Albright’s pins, they were not necessarily made of precious materials but because of the story attached to each one, and the background or provenance, the initial cost of these pieces would bear no resemblance to the value.

Images from Pinterest.
To find out more about the pins of Madeleine Albright the details of her book:
Read My Pins – Stories from a Diplomats Jewel Box by Madeleine Korbel Albright
ISBN: 9780060899189 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc

Foot note:
Most recent incident of a brooch with a message was worn by Lady Gaga at the recent US inauguration ceremony she wrote after her performance “A dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other”.

Figure 9. Lady Gaga wore one of the most dramatic looks of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, stepping out to sing the U.S. national anthem in a giant custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture look designed by Daniel Roseberry: a fitted jacket in navy cashmere, a skirt in washed red silk faille, and a giant gilded dove of peace brooch.


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