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Meet Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Jewelry Designer Loree Rodkin

"You've called the wrong jewelry designer," was Rodkin's first thought when she got the call to do Michelle Obama's inaugural earrings, ring and bracelets

Loree Rodkin designed the jewlery worn by Michelle Obama for the inaugural balls. The jewelry goes on view March 10 along with Mrs. Obama's inaugural ball gown. Photo by Molly Roberts.



Loree Rodkin is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer, who crafted First Lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration jewelry, including diamond earrings, a 10-carat diamond signet ring and a set of diamond bangle bracelets. Rodkin was on hand Tuesday morning when Mrs. Obama donated her inaugural ball gown by the young designer Jason Wu, along with the jewelry and her Jimmy Choo shoes to the National Museum of American History. We chatted about jewelry and few other things.



What does it feel like to see your work on display at the Smithsonian?



Surreal. You can’t dream this large. It’s like winning the Academy Award of jewelry design.



Your work has been described as “visionary,” what did you envision for Mrs. Obama?



She is so dramatic looking and so statuesque. I wanted something that accentuated her beauty. I wanted something with a twist. Fashion forward, but classic.



You were born in Chicago. How does that city figure into your relationship with the First Lady?



The store Ikram in Chicago’s Gold Coast on Rush Street; Mrs Obama has shopped there over the years and relies on Ikram's style.



Is the jewelry symbolic?



Michelle Obama's inaugural jewelry, earrings, bracelets and a ring were designed by Los Angeles-based Loree Rodkin. Photo courtesy of the museum



The election earrings that I designed are called the celestial earrings. They have 61 carats of diamonds and they represent the moon, the stars, and the hope for Obama for our future.



First words and thoughts when Mrs. Obama called to say she’d selected your jewelry?



You’ve called the wrong jewelry designer. I traditionally make very edgy jewelry for performers like Madonna and Cher and Elton John. But I also do grown-up jewelry and for Michelle Obama, I did my most elegant work. It’s still hard to fathom. I called my mother and she didn’t believe me!

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About Beth Py-Lieberman
Beth Py-Lieberman

Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering the Smithsonian Institution in both print and online. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades.

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