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Recently I took a trip to the Washington, DC area. I had two speaking engagements that I was a part of-the first one being DC’s GIA Alumni chapter meeting and the second one AGS Conclave. Excitement was what this excursion was all about after I realized both were in the same area, however one week apart. I could have flown in and out for both occasions, but since I had never been to DC before, I decided to make an entire vacation out of it! So this blog post compiles all that I did in between those two events (which I already wrote about here and here). It was also a very special vacation because I brought my mom along with me (who also had never been to DC before) and we took a few days to drive up to Pennsylvania and visit my Gram too.
Day One in DC started with having the entire morning and most of the afternoon to ourselves before my 7pm presentation. It was a rainy day unfortunately, but we made the most of it by checking out two museums. All the photos above are from our visit to Hillwood Estate-a gorgeous mansion once owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post back in the 1950s. Marjorie is an incredibly interesting person, as her wealth was acquired by her father who founded Postum Cereal Company (General Foods) which she took over at the young age of 27 when her father passed away. She was a collector and lover of jewellery, arts and gardens. When she decorated her large estate, she deliberately knew she wanted it to become a museum one day, as she was driven to open up the doors to the public. Most importantly, she wanted to share the lifetime of joy she got out of collecting with everyone else. To learn more about Marjorie Merriweather Post, check out this video.
After our time spent at Hillwood, we dined at the cafe on the premises which was great and then headed to Tudor Place, another much smaller and older estate open to the public through guided tours only. We also weren’t allowed to take any pictures and I was saddened to not experience very many pieces of jewelry on the tour-only a very small curio cabinet with less than ten items. The area in which Tudor Place is located is just the cutest though.
4155 Linnean Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
1644 31st St NW
Washington, DC 20007
Day Two of Washington, DC had nothing planned except an entire day at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and I am pretty sure I was more excited than all the school kids I was lined up behind, waiting for the doors to open in the morning. We got there 15 minutes before it was set to open and opted for an Uber since parking would’ve been a nightmare and it is drastically convenient to have someone drop you off right in front. As soon as the doors opened, my mom and I jetted upstairs for the Harry Winston Gallery, where the Hope Diamond and the Gallery of Gems & Minerals were displayed. It was incredible to say the least-I’m so glad I got the chance to experience such an amazing array and vast collection of gems and minerals all in one place, and I’m also thankful for the timing of it, as my love and knowledge for this subject is definitely at its highest.
The jewellery that was on display was mind-blowing and the gasping going on was too much to handle. Some of my favorite pieces would have to be the ones I took pictures of, shown above-like the Napoleon Diamond Necklace featuring 260 carats of diamonds! Also the Mackay Emerald and Diamond Necklace, featuring an emerald that weighs 168 carats! The Hall Sapphire Necklace was so enchanting-it was designed by Harry Winston and features 36 cushion cut sapphires from Sri Lanka all set in platinum. The turquoise and diamond crown was also men’s chain only necklacesa stand-out for me: titled The Mary Louise Diadem, which Napoleon gave to his second wife. Originally it held emeralds, but in the 1950s they were replaced by turquoise by Van Cleef & Arpels who acquired the diadem. The emeralds were individually set into pieces of jewellery and advertised as emeralds from a historic Napoleonic Tiara! How fascinating! Of course, the pi-e de r’sistance of the Smithsonian-The Hope Diamond, which thankfully I got to see as it has been recently on and off display. I not only got to see it, but I had my own private moment with it with no one else around! That’s pretty rare!
We enjoyed the rest of the museum that day, spent too much money at the Rock & Mineral gift shop and finally ate some lunch at the cafeteria. It made for such a great day! My mom enjoyed everything too and taking pictures of random things and sending them to my sisters lol. All we had left planned that day was to hop in our rental and drive 15-20 minutes to Alexandria, VA!
Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20560
My next stop was a short drive out to Alexandria, Virginia and we checked into Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel, nestled perfectly amongst the shops in quaint historic Alexandria. I’ve never been more pumped to stay at a cute boutique hotel before and this one’s location is way too good to choose to stay anywhere else if you’re main activity is visiting the shops and restaurants. Upon checking in, we immediately walked around and got familiar with the area.
The next morning we were surprised by the unexpected snowfall and it was so cool to watch it happening outside our hotel window-some of the largest snowflakes I had seen in awhile. It was a Saturday morning, so just up the street the local farmer’s market was in full swing by that time-a local tradition here since 1753! We headed straight for the only vendor selling sweets and I can still taste the blueberry turnover I ate that day, simply the best!
After a “healthy” breakfast of baked goods, we headed for The Antique Guild, family-owned and open since 1980. Owner of the shop, Mara, is SO friendly and truly loves what she does. I was honored to meet her mother who was helping out the Saturday that I visited (pictured above all three of us). She sure loves jewelry too-decked out in a full charm bracelet, a fob charm necklace and tons of rings on every finger. It was then and there that I knew I had so much to look forward to in the future. Someone at that age who was just as enthusiastic about jewellery as someone like myself was fun to experience.
As you can tell from the photos above, I had such a great time visiting The Antique Guild-it truly is the best in the area and for many, many miles all around. Pretty much anything you see in the photos is for sale, so if you like anything you see let us know! I purchased a few goodies for myself, like two antique baby rings, a mini mother-of-pearl figa, and a lapis scarab charm. Will be posting pictures of those soon! Thanks so much Mara and hope to see you again soon!
The Antique Guild
113 North Fairfax St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Finally, before heading to Pennsylvania we stopped by one more antique jewellery shop, Silverman Galleries. With a finely tuned and curated selection, mostly pieces dating way over 100 years old, the shop is like a mini-museum silver ringsof curiosities. The double-crowned heart ringwas insane and fit like a glove! The navette intaglio made of banded agate was also another stand out, which ALSO fit me like a glove. The owner of the shop chuckled as I easily slipped on all her tiny rings. Most of what is in the store is online, so be sure to check out their website!
110 North Saint Asasph St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
*Special thanks to Hotel Monaco for the discounted stay!
480 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Written by Annie
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