The Jewelry of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or “Jackie O” as the world came to call her, always exhibited an impeccable sense of style. Having been married to two great men, one a US President and the other a Greek shipping tycoon, she had access to the best jewelers worldwide. Combining her fame with her ability to put garments and accessories together, whatever she wore instantly became a fashionable look that women over the world wanted to copy. As with her clothing choices, she was keenly aware of design, detail, and quality when selecting her jewelry. She not only recognized fine jewelry, but she also knew how to accessorize an outfit correctly, thus giving it a sophisticated, yet effortless look. She never wore too much jewelry or too little. In keeping with her deep appreciation for French fashion, she had a special love for jewelry by French born jewelers Charles Arpels and Alfred Van Clef. In addition, she enjoyed pieces designed by American jeweler Kenneth Jay Lane and French jeweler Jean Schlumberger who designed for Tiffany & Co. Ultimately, regardless of whether or not she was wearing gems or costume jewelry, she always created a look that was unforgettable.
(NOTE: All the jewelry shown are replicas of pieces owned by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.)
Her Cross Necklace Collection
Over her lifetime, Jackie collected over 300 cross necklaces. In 1955 Pope Pius XII gave her a cross necklace that started her collection. Being the wife of the first Catholic US President, Jackie was acutely aware of the necessity for separation of church and state. Consequently, she often wore crosses under her clothing so they could not been seen, thus negating possible criticism. Unfortunately, this means we have few pictures of her wearing them during the White House years.
Jackie loved long necklaces and was always searching for one-of-a-kind pieces at antique stores. One such piece was the Ruby & Gemstone Cross Necklace.
During President and Mrs. Kennedy visit to Russia, Jackie presented Mrs. Khrushchev with a gift of silver. The story goes that Mrs. Khrushchev, embarrassed that she did not have a gift to give to Jackie, reached into her purse and gave this cross pendant to the President’s wife. The two women became very close ant the cross was deeply treasured by Jackie. It carries a Russian inscription that translates to “Preserve and Save.”
The Three-Strand Faux-Pearl Necklace
Source for above pictures: Hubpages
One of Jackie’s favorite pieces was a 17″ triple–strand simulated pearl necklace. Prior to Kokichi Mikimoto perfecting the cultured pearl process, finding pearls properly matched in size and color for a necklace or bracelet was extremely difficult. Consequently, hand-painted glass-based pearls from Czechoslovakia were worn by the wealthy. Jackie’s set of pearls was designed in the manner of Coco Channel with each length different and a larger space between the inner strand and the outer two. The gap allowed the lower string to be pulled up and over the upper string thus creating a more sophisticated look.
The Tank Watch
Source: Camrose & Kross
For one year after the death of her husband, President Kennedy, Jackie wore only black and very little jewelry. She purchased the Tank Watch from Cartier in New York to wear during this period of mourning. In 1964 this picture was taken of Jackie wearing the Tank Watch as her only piece of jewelry.
The Kunzite Ring
After the death of their newborn son Patrick in August of 1963, Jack and Jackie became much closer. During this time of grieving and healing, the President became quite optimistic about his life with Jackie and their future together. In October, he ordered a special Christmas present for Jackie. He had Van Cleef and Arpels in New York make a large kunzite ring with twenty diamonds. “He knew Jackie loved pink, and he felt that the stone’s dynamic color captured his new optimistic spirit. The twenty diamonds symbolized the first ten Christmases they had celebrated together, and the next ten he was looking forward to sharing with her. The ring was delivered to the White House in early November. John wrote Jackie a letter and gave it and the ring to his secretary for safe keeping. He would never get the chance to deliver it, as he was assassinated in Dallas only weeks later. After his death, Mrs. Lincoln delivered what Jackie knew would be the last gift from her beloved husband. Although Jackie was in mourning for a year and wore almost no jewelry, she kept this ring with her at all times.” (The Kennedy Center)
The Garland Bracelet
Source: Camrose & Kross
JFK gave Jackie the Garland Bracelet made with emeralds. She particularly loved the butterfly pattern that resulted from the setting of the emeralds and diamonds and it quickly became one of her favorite bracelets. In fact, she liked it so much that over the years she had two more made — one with rubies and the other with sapphires.
The Waterfall Earrings
Source: Camrose & Kross
By virtue of the fact that Jackie wore her Waterfall Earrings so many times — from her trip to Paris to receptions at the White House — they went on to become one of the most photographed pieces of jewelry in the world. The earrings are unique in that they go from formal to informal simply by removing the pendants and wearing the studs alone.