You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Insight into Albright’s bling

Former secretary of state's new book talks about her jewelry

The hundred or so industry figures, fashionistas and socialites who gathered at the Beverly Hills St. John store last week were there to hear how jewelry can make a difference in global diplomacy.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stopped by to tell them the meaning behind her accessories — specifically, the brooches she has worn on many a diplomatic mission.

The author of “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” Albright has been on a tour to promote the book and a New York exhibition of her jewelry. Included, for instance, is a three-monkey pin — signifying hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil — that she first wore at a meeting with then-Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was taking what she calls a “callous attitude” toward human rights in Chechnya. Or there was the angel she wore when making remarks in 1998 following the bombing of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

“None of this would have happened in this way had it not been for Saddam Hussein,” says Albright, tracing her trademark pin tradition to when she was ambassador to the United Nations and made repeatedly harsh remarks about the Iraqi regime.

“There was a poem in the Baghdad papers that compared me to an ‘unparalled serpent,’ ” she says. “I had a snake pin and I decided to wear it when we were dealing with Iraq. So that is how it all started, and the cameras picked it up, and I thought, ‘Well, this is fun.’ So I went out and I got a lot of costume jewelry that kind of signified what mood I was in.”

When she was negotiating the anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Russian foreign minister, she was wearing an arrow pin that looked like a missile. “He said, ‘Is that one of your missile interceptors?’ and I said ‘Yes, and we make them very small so it is time to negotiate.’ ”

Over the years, she’s been given many pins as gifts, like a star-spangled U.S. flag brooch given by Julann Griffin who received it from by her ex-husband, Merv Griffin. One of her many eagle pins was designed by Joseff of Hollywood. She managed to get an entire jazz band on her jacket when she paid tribute to Stevie Wonder at an event for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

If Albright has found a way to merge the glitter with global policy, it can’t be a big surprise that she is praiseworthy of the glitterati’s involvement in international issues, even as skeptics question whether efforts in areas like Darfur have made much difference.

“If they take their stardom in a way that furthers causes, I think that is a very good thing,” she says. “A lot of actors are very committed and very smart people and focus in on the issues directly. They can articulate them, and I think it has made a big difference.”

Popular on Variety

More News

  • Mo'Nique

    Mo'Nique Files Race and Sex Discrimination Suit Against Netflix

    Mo’Nique filed a discrimination suit against Netflix on Thursday, alleging that the streaming service broke the law when it gave her a lowball offer for a comedy special. The comedian — whose legal name is Monique Hicks — accused Netflix of race and sex discrimination. In January 2018, Mo’Nique called for a boycott of Netflix, [...]

  • Career Foreign Service officer George Kent,

    TV Ratings: Fox News, ABC Draw Big Impeachment Numbers

    The first day of the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump drew over 13 million total viewers across the broadcast and news networks combined. Fox News’s coverage from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. drew the highest total viewership of any network, averaging around 2.9 million sets of eyeballs. MSNBC followed in second with 2.7 million [...]

  • Wu-Tang Clan Children Form Group, 2nd

    Wu-Tang Clan Children Form Group, 2nd Generation Wu (Listen)

    Considering the Wu-Tang Clan’s sprawling membership — nine core members with a couple dozen auxiliary members — it’s not surprising that, a year after the group belatedly celebrated its 25 th anniversary, several of its offspring have formed a group called 2 nd Generation Wu. The group’s members consist of U-God’s son iNTeLL, Method Man’s son [...]

  • Margot Robbie Big Ticket Podcast

    Margot Robbie Was 'Pretty Rattled' After Reading the 'Bombshell' Script for the First Time

    Margot Robbie took to Twitter to prepare for her role as a conservative news producer and aspiring broadcast journalist for Fox News in “Bombshell.” “Understanding her upbringing and her point of view on politics in the world, that really took me a minute,” Robbie says on today’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s [...]

  • Netflix to Amend ‘The Devil Next

    Netflix to Amend 'The Devil Next Door' Documentary After Backlash (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix will amend elements of its documentary series “The Devil Next Door” after the Polish prime minister and others complained to CEO Reed Hastings about the show, which centers on the trial of John Demjanjuk who was accused of being a notorious Ukrainian concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible. Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki [...]

  • Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New

    Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New Head Writer Team

    Stephen Colbert has expanded the circle of people helping to make the ultimate decision about what the funniest things are for him to say each night on CBS’ “Late Show.” Three writers/producers who have been with Colbert for years will get new duties at his late-night program. Ariel Dumas, a longtime writer for Colbert, has [...]

  • Randy Newman My First Time

    My First Time in Variety: Randy Newman

    “What?! My god.” This is Randy Newman’s reaction upon learning of the first time he ever appeared in the pages of Variety, back in May of 1965. That was three years before he released his first album as a singer-songwriter, at which point he began steadily accruing fans of his warped musical character sketches until [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content