Not just a ‘shiny piece of coal’ – the jewellery of Hamilton

Last week, after almost 3 years of having the soundtrack on repeat, I FINALLY got to be in the room where it happens at Hamilton in London, along with The Goblin and a whole bunch of family and friends. I cried. A lot.

 

And I have A LOT of feelings about the show, the top 3 being:

1) How amazing Jamael Westman & Rachelle Ann Go are as the Hamiltons

2) How I will never be satisfied with a Washington who isn’t Christopher Jackson

3) How It’s Quiet Uptown will never not make me cry (especially when sung by the divine Rachel John).giphy (3).gif

I also have a lot of feelings about the gorgeous costuming, which Paul Tazewell, acclaimed Broadway costume designer, created as a modern, minimalist version of 18th century silhouettes. It’s a combination of old and new right after my own heart*, all in a palette of lush colours.

 

The minimalism doesn’t just stop at the clothing, with the only jewellery in the show being the main female characters’ delicate drop earrings (aside from King George’s bling, of course!). They’re a gorgeous example of minimal styling, because they add a little sparkle without taking away from the incredible vocals and rich dresses.

 

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Like the costumes, the Hamilton ladies’ jewellery is a stripped-back version of what women of the Schuylers’ status would have worn during this period of history (although not that stripped back; in late eighteenth century America, less jewellery was definitely more). Hair adornments and brooches were the accessories of choice at this time. Necklaces, when worn, tended to be of a choker style, and earrings were relatively simple (albeit expensive) gemstone drops.

 

Following the Revolution, at the start of the nineteenth century, American jewellery manufacture briefly boomed at home, as well as there being expanded import options. The Neo-classical trend in Europe carried across to the States, with pearl, topaz and amethyst designs gaining popularity.

 

However, from their portraits, it seems the real-life Schuyler sisters were even simpler in their tastes than the styles of the time:

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Angelica (by John Trumbull)
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Eliza (by Ralph Earl)
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And Peggy! (by James Peale)

I, of course, made myself some Hamilton-themed gems to wear to the show, focusing on the star motif….

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These may make their way into the Tiding of Magpies store one day…
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Loving wearing my long threader earrings through multiple piercings at the moment for a different look…

Judging by the costumes and the historical jewels, perhaps I should have worn a pair of my gemstone drop earrings instead so I could pretend I was a Schuyler sister! Come to think of it, maybe I’ll do this tomorrow – I just need to find an orangey-pink outfit to go with my rose quartz drops…

 

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Some interesting articles on the costume design process:

http://tyrannyofstyle.com/costume-design-hamilton-broadway

https://www.thecut.com/2016/06/see-the-original-sketches-of-hamilton-costumes/slideshow/2016/06/09/hamilton_sketches/

Also, shout out to this blog for providing endless portraits of 18th and 19th century American women – https://b-womeninamericanhistory18.blogspot.co.uk/

 

*Maria Reynolds aside, because, come on now, this show is better than that stereotypical ‘vampy’ red…

 

State your case

While researching a previous post, I discovered the existence of state gemstones, and I was delighted. Some American states, it turns out, started adopting state gemstones in the late 1960s, as a marketing tool to promote stones which were an important part of their economy. Although this is a rather less romantic origin story than I’d hoped for, I’ve still enjoyed finding out which stones fit where, so here goes…

  • Alabama – The Heart of Dixie chose its gemstone in 1990…and it shows. Have you ever seen a more 90s gem than this blue star quartz? They do redeem themselves by having our old pal haematite as their ‘state mineral’, though, so we can’t judge them too harshly!
Star Blue Quartz
Source: Wikipedia
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Source: kouragallery.co.nz
  • Arizona: Turquoise – I would have thought this would be California’s vibe, but there we go…
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Available here
  • Arkansas: Nothing but the best for Arkansas, ‘the Wonder State’: their state stone is a diamond.
  • California: Unsurprisingly, the Golden State’s official mineral is, well, gold! The state gemstone is one I hadn’t heard of before: the obscure but pretty blue benitoite:
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Source: Wikicommons
  • Colorado: Aquamarine
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Available here
  • Connecticut: Connecticut doesn’t technically have a state gemstone, but its state mineral is almandine garnet, which is a nice brown colour. Very popular with the Victorians, apparently.
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Source: Wikipedia
  • Florida: Despite being full of alligators and serial killers, Florida wins this list because it has my new favourite stone as its state gem: moonstone.
  • Georgia: I guess Georgia was too busy growing peaches to hone their gemstone selection too carefully, so they just have quartz. Just all kinds of quartz, apparently!
  • Hawaii: Black coral. It’s pretty, but I’ve never felt the same about coral since I watched Blue Planet and learnt they expand by puking themselves onto other corals and absorbing them.
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Not pictured: copious amounts of vom… Image source: gemrockauctions.com
  • Idaho: The so-called Gem State is a bit disappointing with their choice of star garnet, which is basically just black garnet as far as I can tell. Shame!
  • Kentucky: Kentucky’s keeping it classy with freshwater pearls – can’t argue with that.
  • Louisiana: Finally, a hint of scandal! Louisiana’s state gemstone from 1976 to 2011 was Louisiana agate, but this was ditched in 2011 for Lapearlite, which is the shell of the Eastern Oyster. But why? Well, it seems it was an attempt to boost the fishing industry by publicising this new gemstone, and the Louisiana agate was installed as the state’s first-ever official mineral. They made this change by law – apparently they take their official gemstones seriously!
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Source: constantcontact.com
  • Maine: Maine’s keeping it varied with tourmaline, which comes in a whole host of lovely colours.
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Ooooooooh, puuuuuuurdy. Image source: Pinterest.
  • Maryland: Patuxent River Stone Agate is only found in Maryland, and its red-orange colour echoes the Maryland flag – perfect! Excellent marketing there.
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Source: Wikipedia
  • Massachusetts: Rhodonite – aka my wardrobe that awful year dressing like you were an extra in Grease was in (circa 2002).
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Source: Pinterest
  • Michigan: Chlorastrolite, another form of the greenstone/nephrite jade we saw earlier.
  • Minnesota: Lake Superior agate, a local, iron-filled agate.
  • Montana: These magpies have not one but TWO state gems: the Montana sapphire and the Montana agate. Montana sapphires are only mined within the state, and have a pale, denim blue colour and exceptional clarity.
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Found around the Yellowstone River. Source: bernadine.com
  • Nebraska: Yet more agate, blue this time.
  • Nevada: Another magpie state: black fire opal and turquoise (no surprises there – states near the current (and behind the old!) Mexican border obviously mine a lot of the stuff). Black fire opal is quite full-on, though – I’d probably have just stuck with the turquoise…
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Source: Pinterest
  • New Hampshire: Keeping it classy with a muted smoky quartz.
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Source: geology.com
  • New Mexico: Turquoise – shocker!
  • New York: Garnet. Another one of my faves; they get points for this.
  • North Carolina: Sticking with the cardinal stones, North Carolina has beautiful green emerald as their state gemstone.
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Available here
  • Ohio: Ohio flint. I’d argue this isn’t a gemstone, but Wikipedia claims otherwise…
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I mean, I guess I sort of see it…? Source: Wikipedia
  • Oregon: Oregon sunstone laboradite. I’m liking states naming their gems after themselves – nice and tidy.
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Source; Wikipedia
  • South Carolina: Amethyst – strong showing from the Carolinas!
  • South Dakota: Fairburn agate (reddish)
  • Tennessee: Tennessee river pearl – the deep south loves a classic pearl, it would seem…
  • Texas: Texas blue topaz. For bonus points, Texas also have their own stone cut: the Lone Star Cut. It’s big and over the top, so seems fitting! It looks like this:

 

  • Utah: More topaz – no colour, just general topaz.
  • Vermont: Grossular garnet. Not a grimmer version of garnet, just a type with a different structure!
  • Washington: Petrified wood. I mean, I get what they’re trying to do but c’mon, guys, it’s not a gemstone. Didn’t your namesake teach you not to lie?!
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I mean, right? It’s not even shiny! Source: Wikipedia
  • West VirginiaLithostrotionella fossil coral. Kind of gross, kind of pretty. What do you think?
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Source: Wikipedia
  • Wyoming: Wyoming’s rounding us off nicely – we’re back to nephrite jade.

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And there you have it! Not all states have stones (boo), but those who do tend to really go niche with their choices (not surprising if they’re limited to what they can grow in-state I suppose!) which made for some interesting research.

What would your state stone be if you had one? I’m torn between moonstone and haematite, although garnet is a close third…