AC-LR314 – Diamond necklace

Mary’s Diamond Heart

The tragic arc of Mary Lincoln’s life can be traced through her fashion choices. A woman of rising means and immense ambition, Mary sought to adorn herself in increasingly fashionable and luxurious ways as her social, political, and financial status grew. While this conspicuous consumption partly garnered the respect Mary sought, it also fueled her public image as an irresponsible spendthrift. This heart-shaped pendant—likely one of Mary’s most expensive and stunning possessions—exemplifies that contradiction.

It features a 0.80 carat diamond surrounded by 28 smaller ones that total 4.62 carats, held by a 14k gold chain. Mary’s descendants recalled it was a gift from Abraham. Regardless, it reveals Mary’s sense of style during her presidential years. Sadly, mounting tragedies transformed Mary’s fashion from extravagance to melancholy, as her clothes and accessories increasingly featured the color black to express her deep and constant mourning.

Gift of Alice B. Colonna, 2005

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