Mary Todd Lincoln's Tiffany Seed Pearl Parure

Mary Todd Lincoln wearing the seed pearl jewelry suite. Photo taken in the studio of Mathew Brady

In 1861 president Lincoln purchased a demi-parure of seed pearl jewelry, from Tiffany &Co., for his wife and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln to wear to the President's inaugural ball. The complete parure (suite) of seed pearl jewelry would have consists of a collar necklace, a pair of bracelets, a pair of earrings, one or possibly two brooches, and a corsage brooch and cost around $1,000. President Lincoln, however opted to purchase a less expensive demi-parure consisting of a necklace and a pair of bracelets only, which cost $530.

During a time when the nation was standing on the precipice of war many of Lincoln's political adversaries criticized the money that was spent on the First Lady's jewelry and gown ( her gown cost an astounding $2,000).