Small seed pearls imported from China and India and strung on horsehair or silk into earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and hair ornaments achieved great popularity in federal America. Their smooth white texture and color melded with the neoclassical aesthetic that harkened back to ancient Greece and Rome. During the presidency, Martha Washington purchased readily available seed pearl jewelry that was imported or made by Philadelphia and New York jewelers. The interest and fashion for seed pearl jewelry lasted after her death, and Mrs. Washington's descendants continued to wear her finery, occasionally re-working her seed pearls into pieces such as these earrings with pendant rosettes. More


c. 1789-1797; refashioned c. 1852-1864



Pearl, mother of pearl, silver


Other (pendant): 2 in. x 1 1/8 in. x 3/8 in. (5.08 cm x 2.87 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (earring): 7/8 in. x 7/8 in. x 1/4 in. (2.24 cm x 2.24 cm x 0.64 cm)


Gift of Helen Upshur Hunt Conrad, 1958

Object Number



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