With the onset of the neoclassical style, Martha Washington updated her jewelry as well as her clothing. Small seed pearls, imported from China and India to be strung on horsehair or silk and fashioned into elegant earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and hair ornaments, were widely popular in federal America. Mrs. Washington may have purchased this intricate "festooned" necklace from one of the many New York and Philadelphia jewelers who advertised similar articles, selecting it for its fashionability as well as the republican ideals of classical Greece and Rome to which it alluded. More


c. 1789-1797



Pearls, gold, silk


Overall: 1/2 in. x 12 1/2 in. (1.27 cm x 31.75 cm)


Gift of Colonel and Mrs. Edward Parke Custis Lewis Cumming, 1990

Object Number



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