Tudor Place
  • Martha Custis Peter's hairwork bracelet, ca. 1825, with gold engraved locket containing her sisters' hair.


With 315 pins, brooches, necklaces, lockets, earrings, rings, cufflinks, and accessories, the Jewelry Collection represents all six generations of the resident Peter family and traces changes in style and materials over two centuries. In its earliest pieces, gold and silver mounts are set with pearls, diamonds, and imitative glass (“paste”) stones. As tastes turned to more vibrantly hued tones, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and amethysts began to appear. Victorian and Edwardian jewelry worn by the women of Tudor Place includes examples studded with mine-cut and rose-cut diamonds set in platinum and enamel.

Hairwork jewelry was a popular early American accessory, braided into delicate bracelets or rings or cut and pasted to create miniature scenes on brooches to celebrate engagements or mourn the loss of loved ones. Among the collection’s highlights are several such pieces, including a rose gold mourning ring occasioned by the 1806 death of Robert Peter , and a rare ca. 1825-50 bracelet woven from the hair of his daughter-in-law, Martha Peter, with a locket containing locks from her two sisters. The collection has eight pocket watches, including Thomas Peter’s pocket watch, retailed by jewelers H.G. and J.E. Wagner in Georgetown in the late 18th century. A second significant piece is a 1741 watch made by English clockmaker William Webster, Jr., which was a gift from George Washington to Eleanor Calvert in 1774. A ca. 1870-80 wrought-silver necklace, convertible into two bracelets, designed by Tiffany & Company evokes the Japonisme craze of that era. A collection of Art Deco jewelry also includes Asian-inspired elements, such as a carved jade-and-diamond brooch made in the 1920s by the Parisian firm of J. Chaumet.