Following Martha Washington's death, her descendants frequently refashioned jewelry so that successive generations might wear a few of the stones, beads, or pearls that graced her ears or encircled her neck. In the mid-nineteenth century, Katherine Williams Upshur, a great-great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, remade her inherited seed pearl necklace into a set of four cross pendants that could be shared equally among her four children. As a deeply religious woman, Mrs. Washington would undoubtedly have approved of the selected form, and it may have been chosen with her sentiments in mind.


Seed pearl cross-shaped pendant composed of three sizes of pearls; the vertical arm of the cross is composed of six seed pearl circles, each with a larger pearl in the center; the horizontal arm is composed of four seed pearl circles, each with a larger pearl in the center; atop the crossing of the arms, affixed to a mother-of-pearl backing, is a rosette composed of tiny seed pearls encircling a larger pearl, from which four smaller, pear-shaped pearls emanate diagonally; seed pearls are strung on a thread form the loop of the pendant attached to the head of the cross.


c. 1852-1864



Pearl, mother of pearl


Overall: 1 5/8 in. x 1 in. (4.14 cm x 2.54 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Marrietta Claiborne Henderson, 1987

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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