Welcome to Staatsburgh State Historic Site's blog! Learn more about the Gilded Age home of Ruth and Ogden Mills!

Friday, April 28, 2017

The (Mills) Family Jewels: Boucheron of Paris and the Ultimate Gilded Age Status Symbol

Recently the site was contacted by an intern in the Heritage Department of the French jeweler, Boucheron, a renowned company that has been supplying the wealthy and fabulous with jewelry since 1893.  He wanted to learn a bit more about the Mills family because he had been scouring the sales archives and noticed that they were very regular clients of Boucheron for over 30 years from the 1890s to 1920s.  They purchased jewelry pieces monthly that were delivered to them in London, Paris, and New York.

Home of Boucheron, 26 Place Vendomme, Paris (Photo credit: Wikimedia User Delud)

Jewelry has always been utilized as a status symbol and this was certainly true during the Gilded Age when unprecedented wealth and the desire to stand out in society created a market for fine jewelry.  Women like Ruth Mills wore jeweled tiaras, brooches, bracelets and necklaces to society events and balls.  Rare gems and large diamonds worth millions of dollars highlighted the wealth and social status of the women they adorned.  We can compare it to the red carpet at the Oscars in the present day when "Hollywood royalty" parade past the press wearing fancy gowns and jewelry worth millions and millions of dollars.

Through this connection, we were able to receive photos of some of the actual pieces that Ogden Mills purchased from Boucheron.  Since Staatsburgh does not have personal affects from the family, this provided a wonderful opportunity to look at actual pieces of jewelry Ruth Mills and her daughters would have worn in society.