Martha Washington and her daughter Martha "Patsy" Custis placed four orders for garnet hair ornaments between 1759 and 1772. This spray of flowers, known as an "aigrette" or "egret" because of its resemblance to the crest or feathered plume of the Lesser White Heron, was likely among the items received. Accordingly, the jewel was worn at the center of a lady's elaborately piled coiffure. Patsy was apparently fond of such adornments, as she is depicted wearing an aigrette of paste or pearls in her 1771 miniature portrait by Charles Willson Peale.


Floral and feathered aigrette made from almandite garnets set in gold-washed silver. The four stemmed spray features: a feathered shaft with eleven settings, four flower settings on a stalk, a twig with eight leaf settings, followed by a branch with a single jeweled leaf setting and two five petaled flowers. Of the thirty four garnets that once graced the piece, only twelve remain. Each gem is backed with foil in a closed setting. The obverse is devoid of any fasteners.






Silver, gold, garnet


Overall: 5/8 in. x 1 1/8 in. x 1/4 in. (1.6 cm x 2.87 cm x 0.64 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Walter Gibson Peter, Jr. in memory of Agnes Peter Mott, 1975

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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